- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

MANSFIELD, Ohio (AP) - The original electric chair from the Columbus Penitentiary has made its way to the Ohio State Reformatory.

The execution device dubbed “Old Sparky” arrived June 1 and is on permanent loan to the prison-turned-museum from the Ohio Historical Society, the News Journal (https://ohne.ws/1QqitNG ) reports.

“We’re getting 89 more pieces (to the chair),” said Paul Smith, executive director of the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society. “It includes the large power board with the switch, the mask, the sponges, the shin guards.”

It currently sits on display behind a glass case at the museum and is going to a room that was formerly a prison office next to a warden’s office.

“Over the next five years we plan on doing an entire restoration of the west administration wing. We hope to have about 20,000 square feet of museum space at that time. That’s the goal,” Smith said.

The museum had been displaying a replica of the chair that was built at Richland Correctional Institution by carpenter/maintenance employee Chet Cupp and inmate Ronald Charlton. It was donated to the museum in 2002 and will eventually be sent to the Toledo Police Museum.

The Ohio State Reformatory has become a one-of-a-kind attraction since it was featured in the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption, drawing tourists from around the world.

A year after it opened in 1896, the electric chair - considered a more humane form of execution - replaced the gallows. From then up until 1963, 315 people were put to death in the electric chair, including three women.

“Most things around here don’t bother me too much, but that just has a dark history to it,” Smith said.

Museum volunteers Bill Sample and Marty Sneeringer have been restoring woodwork in former office in preparation for the historic piece. The chair will be part of the State of Ohio Correctional Facility Museum inside the reformatory, scheduled to open sometime next year.


Information from: News Journal, https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com

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