We Got Shawshanked!

The Shawshank Redemption

…voted 2nd best movie of all-time (second to The Godfather) on imdb
…nominated for 7 Academy Awards in 1994
…deemed best film never to have won Best Picture in a 2005 BBC poll
…earned 3 and 1/2 stars from Roger Ebert

If you haven’t seen the film based on a short novella by Stephen King, rent it. If you’ve seen it and loved it, head to Mansfield.
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Mansfield, Ohio is a small city in the middle of Ohio with a big claim to fame. It’s where most of the filming of The Shawshank Redemption occurred, and this August the town will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its success.

We were graciously invited by the Mansfield & Richland County Visitors Bureau to explore The Shawshank Trail. It began with a complimentary Shawshank package at the Quality Inn. I wondered if I should worry about a prison-movie package at a hotel, but curiosity got the best of me. What could a Shawshank package mean? A room behind bars with bread & water for breakfast? A rock hammer and a poster so that I could eventually work my way out?

goodie bag

Not quite. We entered the room to find a bevy of goodies relating to the movie: two tickets for the Ohio Reformatory tour, chocolate “prison” bars from The Squirrel’s Den, Jail House Java from the Blueberry Patch, a Shawshank tote bag, Andy’s Diet Root Beer, Red’s Strawberry Soda and a driving map to explore the rest of the Shawshank movie sites around town.

Brooks Was Here. So Was Red.

Our first stop was The Squirrel’s Den, where we wanted to see the chocolate replica of Brooks’ apartment. (And where we discovered that we were following in Obama’s footsteps again.) Brooks, as you may recall, was the old man released from prison, who had trouble adjusting to life outside bars.
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A block from there, we stopped at the park bench where Brooks sat and fed the pigeons, hoping his jailbird crow Jake would return. Then two blocks down, we saw the Bissman Building, which was used as the external façade of the apartment building Brooks moved to.
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Later when we toured the prison (which I’ll feature in a separate post), we learned that the actual room featured in the film was a small room near the chapel inside the prison. Here we saw the famous “Brooks Was Here. So Was Red” etching in the wood.
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Other Shawshank Sites:
You may recognize the background in this scene. This is the outside of the prison where Red and Andy often sat and talked in ‘the yard.’ It’s also the imposing stone wall that Andy first sees when he arrives in shackles at prison and enters the gate.
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A few miles away, on private property across from Malabar Farm is the oak tree that Red goes searching for at the end of the movie. There is no stone wall, and the tree looks a little different now that a tornado took down half of it, but trust me. This is the tree. DSCN1301

In addition, other Mansfield businesses have created Shawshank paraphernalia.
— The Ed Pickens Café has a Shawshankwich sandwich.
— Cypress Wine Cellars has bottled a Reformatory Red wine.
— Two Cousins Pizza offers a Redemption Pie.
— The Olivesburg General Store has a Shawshank Sundae, and is where you’ll find the original ceiling lights from the movie.
— Relax, It’s Just Coffee revs up with Shawshank coffee.
— Eatmor Bundt Cake has cooked up a Shawshank bundt cake
— And, of course, the Quality Inn & Suites Mansfield has put together a Shawshank Trail package, a Shawshank Reunion package, and offers Haunted Mansfield packages, too.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a town embrace their Hollywood claim to fame in the way Mansfield has. But maybe it’s because few films are as legendary as this one.

I think The Shawshank Redemption is up there with the greatest movies of all time. Do you?

43 responses to “We Got Shawshanked!

    • Thanks, Lee. We sat down with our 12-year-old daughter to watch it right before we headed to Mansfield. I wasn’t sure if it would hold her interest, but she was hooked almost right away.

  1. OMG. I’ve been to Mansfield and never knew about the movie connection. Geez… I should read more travel blogs. 🙂

    • It’s a classic, for sure.
      I love the fact that the town has embraced it and different businesses play it up. I wonder what it was like around there when it was being filmed??

    • It’s a fun idea, isn’t it? There are signs outside most places that have joined The Shawshank Trail in one way or another. Every time I went in one, I told them why I was there. I don’t know how many people do, but they all seemed really excited to hear it. Especially the wine guy at Cypress Wine Cellars. He asked me all kinds of questions about it, but knew right where the Reformatory Red wine was.

  2. What an exciting life you lead Juliann…from following Obama to a Shawshank package! That Sundae is stretching it a bit don’t you think 😀

  3. How fascinating – I loved the movie. It must have been quite an experience to be there. I always love your prison stories (that sounded a bit odd!).

  4. Just love the Bissman building. Mansfield looks and sounds like a very interesting place to visit; I thought it might have connections to Mansfield, UK but apparently not. Sad to say I’ve not seen the film. Nice post, love the pics.

  5. Pingback: The Ohio Reformatory Meets Hollywood | Browsing The Atlas·

  6. I have seen the Shawshank Redemption (albeit years ago) and it was a fabulous movie. I didn’t know that it was mostly filmed in Mansfield, OH! I love exploring film locations and this would be right up my alley. The chocolate replica of Brooks’ apartment was just downright cool! I love all the themed gifts, food and tours. This is really a unique find that I had no idea had existed and I think a lot of people would love including myself!

  7. Loved reading this! I went to a small liberal arts college in Ohio, and each October there was always an organized trip to Mansfield to tour the Shawshank Prison. I am kicking myself because something always came up and I never went on the tour, but all my friends did. The photos always looked so cool!! Looking forward to your next post all about the prison.

  8. I never knew that Shawshank was filmed in Mansfield. We are actually going to be driving through Mansfield (and onto Marion then Richwood) in 8 days and I am really tempted to stop by and do some Shawshank tourism. I got my first cat in Mansfield, an orange tabby. It’s about an hour from the family farm. Maybe we should look into the haunted tour. We love that kind of thing.

  9. The first time I ever did a tour based off of locations where the movie was shot was for Outlander. I didn’t realize they had a Shawshank trail based on the movie. My grandma has made me watch that movie until I now LOVE it. Might just have to put this on my to-do list.

  10. I have not seen that movie! (now I need to rent it!) It is so interesting to explore all the movie sites and see the scene in real life. That chocolate replica of the apartment is so adorable!

  11. I tried to watch this movie once but I am far to sensitive. I basically cried the entire time and so I decided to turn it off. Id probably cry through this experience… ahah I am more of a Moana girl

  12. Loved this post, Juliann! I finally watched Shawshank Redemption for the first time (I know, I know) about two months ago at the insistence of my husband. He was raving about it for years, and I can’t believe it didn’t watch it sooner. I also didn’t realize that you could actually see the film sites in real life, and that they are in Ohio! I love the idea of the package… will definitely look into it for next year.

  13. I loved this movie so much — and you have definitely got me thinking that it’s time to re-watch it. I would absolutely follow the Shawshank trail in Mansfield — Brooks was here. So was Red. — would love to see it, and I’d have fun everything else, including the Shawshankwich. I need to get my daughter to watch the film.

  14. This is one of the best movies (and books) ever made. How did I not know there was a Shawshank Trail?! I love Stephen King and this is one of those movies that everytime it came on TV, I would stop and watch it. Ohio isn’t far from me – I may need to look into this for real!

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