Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surprise.....Part 2

We pulled into the Ohio State Reformatory entrance around 7:15pm Saturday night. The place is huge!!! If you've never seen Shawshank Redemption which was filmed there, click HERE to take a look at the place. It looks like an old medieval castle, turrets and all. We went into the building that sits in front of the actual prison and got registered. Around 8:00 they took us outside and went through a safety session on what and what not to do. Then they broke us into groups of about twenty and led us into the prison.

There was a tour leader for each group. The building was completely dark but everyone had a flashlight so we could at least see not to fall on our faces. For the next hour or so, we were led on a guided tour of some of the key places in the building.

The first place we went to was the guest quarters which were not prison like at all. Turns out they used this part of the place as a kind of fancy hotel in the early part of the century. Dignitaries, politicians, family of the wardens and guards, and many others would come to see the prison. And since it was one of the nicest buildings in this part of the country, they would just stay there instead of going to a hotel. There were about ten or twelve of these rooms. Every one had super ornate wordwork and cabinetry. There were common bathrooms, but they were separated for men and women. A couple of the rooms even had their own kitchens. The weirdest thing I noticed about this section (and it would carry on throughout the entire place) was the walls and ceilings. The paint and plaster was peeling and coming down all over the place. The ceilings had stalactites of paint that seemed to be hanging by mere threads. The walls had gaping holes that just seemed to be disinegrating. It sounds dirty, but it really wasn't. It was like everything was just frozen in time.

Next we were taken to the areas where they filmed the non-prison scenes from Shawshank. They showed us where they filmed the library, the warden's office, Brook's apartment when he got out of jail, the room where they did the parole hearings, and finally where they filmed the cafeteria scenes. Something worth mentioning about this last room... The first thing you notice about this hall-like room, is that it's really clean and it's heated. It was originally the central guard room, but after they fixed it up for Shawshank they decided to keep using it. So now they use this as a hall that you can rent out for weddings and parties and banquets. It's like a little modern oasis in an otherwise huge old dirty castle. From this room they led us into the West Cell block, called the West Wing. This was such an amazing place I'll have to leave the details for tomorrow. Check back then!


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