FORMER OHIO STATE PENITENTIARY

(Columbus Correctional Facility)

Bounded By Spring Street (South), Maple Street (North), Neil Avenue (West) and West Street (East), Columbus, OH

Status: Former State Prison; Parking Lot; Residential Building; Commercial Buildings; City Park

Name Your Experiences @ Ohio State Pen Site Submit


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History

The original State Prison built in Columbus in 1813 quickly ran out of space for the number of prisoners being sent there by the courts. Another, much larger, facility needed to be built.

In 1834 the Ohio State Penitentiary was opened in what is now the Arena District in the city’s core. When it opened not all buildings were completed.

In 1837 a separate women’s prison was opened within the prison’s walls.

In 1885 the prison became the State site for executions – first by hanging and then (in 1897) by electric chair. Both men and women were executed in the State’s electric chair.

Previous to 1885 executions were done by State law enforcement officers.

315 prisoners were executed in the electric chair on this site.

In 1963 the death penalty was revoked in Ohio and the executions stopped.

On the night of April 21, 1930 a fire was started when a candle came into contact with oily rags. The prisoners had already been locked down for the night when the fire was noticed. It is said some of the guards refused to open the cell doors and, in one case, prisoners attacked a guard took his keys and let some of the inmates out.

The fire killed 322 prisoners and injured a further 230 and is the deadliest prison fire in US history. Prison authorities maintained that 3 prisoners started the fire on purpose, but that fact is highly questioned as a cover up to hide the terrible job done by prison staff during the fire.

The heat from the fire was so intense the cell bars were twisted and melted. Most of prisoners who died were cooked alive in their locked cells.

The Halloween riot of 1952 left one prisoner dead and another riot in August of 1968 left five prisoners dead.

In 1952 several prisoners were injected – without their knowledge – with HeLa cervical cells in order to find out if the immune response would help with the treatment of cancer.

In 1979 the institution was renamed the Columbus Correctional Facility and had fallen under a Federal decree that it had to be closed by the end of 1983.

The State began moving prisoners out and in August of 1984 the last inmate left the facility.

The site was left abandoned for more than a decade – although it was used as a training ground for the Ohio National Guard – and became a haven for both urban explorers and paranormal investigators.

In 1997 the prison site was demolished, and several commercial buildings were constructed on the site as well as a residential condominium complex, a parking lot and a park.

In 2000 when the Columbus Blue Jackets became part of the NHL Nationwide Arena was built near the prison site and the area became known as the Arena District.

 

Paranormal Activity

This former prison is considered one of the most brutal and terrifying prisons in US history.

As many of 1,000 people died within the prison walls; possibly many more.

A former guard called the site the entrance to Hell after it was abandoned and advised the place be dynamited. Most people believe he was commenting directly on the paranormal activity present.

While the prison was still standing people reported apparitions looking out of the empty windows; apparitions wandering the grounds; shadow figures; the smell and sound of an intense fire; phantom screams and disembodied voices of men screaming to be set free; unexplained noises from whispers to loud bangs; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; electrical disturbances; time shifts; an overpowering sense of both unease and a pervading darkness; phantom footsteps; light anomalies and feelings of being watched and not being wanted.

Now that the prison has been demolished people still report apparitions wandering the area (especially the parking lot); shadow figures slinking along walls and the ground; disembodied voices; powerful feelings that something is just not right; electrical disturbances; phantom screams; light anomalies and feelings of not being alone and being watched.