The OES visited Junction City Prison on August 31, 2001 at 1:00 AM, and followed up with a daytime trip on March 15, 2003. On our visits the prison appeared to be explored quite often and had been a paintball battleground at some point. By interviewing some local people and speaking with Doug Miller of the Perry County Historical Society, we found that the Junction City Prison was a satellite of the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus. However, the Junction City Prison was not originally a prison.
The original brick plant was built in 1908 with labor supplied by residents of the village. But in 1913, the facility was purchased by the State of Ohio and used as a center for the care of aged and disabled prisoners. The prisoners used the 22 acres of land and the brick plant (where bricks were made for state structures and streets) while serving their time. During an escape attempt on September 2, 1927, prison guard Grant Weakly was shot and killed by convicts Patrick Riley and Fred Kellogg as he escorted the two and two others to a dentist office. The two escapees were apprehended about one mile from New Lexington. In 1928, the center burned to the ground and was rebuilt of brick by inmate labor. The prison re-opened but was closed in 1935, sending all the inmates back to the Ohio Pen. The prison was re-opened in 1938 with an additional 40 acres and a third floor. An educational wing was added in 1970. On January 7, 1974, two inmates took three female workers hostage at knifepoint. After several tense hours, twenty-eight troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol raided the room, killing one inmate and injuring the other. All three women escaped without serious injury. The prison finally closed for good in 1977, last housing a division of psychiatric criminology treatment center.
The prison was purchased soon after it closed by Nepco for use as a gasohol refinery. The most interesting fact about the prison was the 1978 filming of the 1980 motion picture Brubaker. The movie that starred Robert Redford, Yaphet Kotto, David Keith, and Morgan Freeman, was about a warden who took a failing prison and turned it around by entering the system as a prisoner. If you had ever been to the prison, Brubaker is a must-see film. Since the film used local talent, Hollywood came and left the area without any noticeable population change. Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of the film on DVD from Amazon.
In the early 1990s, a company called Perry County Pizza occupied the newer cinderblock section of the prison. They made frozen pizza kits for school fundraisers, using the farm to grow fresh peppers for their kits. The company left behind several pieces of equipment and documents related to the pizza kit. It seems that the company closed in a hurry and did not bother selling off their assets. For historical photos of the Junction City Prison, click here.
During our visits to the prison, we conducted crude paranormal investigations as this was no place to leave equipment unattended. We found a consistent cold spot that coincided with high electromagnetic field (EMF) readings just outside the middle stairwell door on the first floor. At one point, we followed the cold spot into an office across the hallway from the stairwell door. As Jason R. conducted an EMF sweep of the room in an attempt to locate the cold spot, another OES member behind him felt a cold breeze go past and alerted everyone. Jason R. turned toward him with the EMF meter in-hand and felt a sudden intense cold on his hand. The EMF meter spiked to the top of the scale for a few moments until the cold spot swiftly moved back toward the hallway. At that very moment, a friend of the OES who was standing in the hallway suddenly froze in her position. As the rest of the exploration team quickly entered the hallway to pursue the moving cold spot, the OES friend broke down and began to cry. She stated that a very sudden coldness and a pins and needles feeling (like when your foot goes to sleep) overcame her entire body and she could not move or speak. Once she regained her composure, we decided to leave the building for the night.
On a later nighttime trip to the prison, one of our female members experienced something strange after deciding to wait in the car along Pen Road NW on the east side of the building instead of entering the prison. Since the three other members did not want to leave her for long, we decided to only check out the prison's main floor. After walking around for about ten minutes, we returned to the car to find all of the interior lighting on and our female member ducking down in the back seat. We opened the door and asked her what was going on and she stated that she saw people on the upper floors looking out at her with a light on. Right after seeing this, she stated that she witnessed a couple of prisoners and a guard walking up the road toward her. After seeing this, she turned on the lights and ducked behind the seats. There were no other vehicles around and we were the only people in the building.
UPDATE: The OES has confirmed that the Junction City Prison has been demolished and the grounds are now home to a junk yard. It is sad to see such a great structure that stood for so many years fall to the wrecking ball.
Thanks goes to Charles, Jeannie and Rob for taking us
on our initial trip to Junction City Prison.
Some quotation from the Perry County Historical Society, History of Perry County Ohio Illustrated 1980.