Coney Island Diner

Coney Island diner with bike

It’s been a Mansfield tradition since 1936 and I can see why. The Coney Island Diner in the heart of downtown Mansfield was a highlight of my visit to the city.

It’s traditional American diner fare. That means burgers and fries, ice cream and comfort food. They do breakfast all day so I had a veggie omlette with home fries and toast for just a few bucks. It was a large portion and tasted like something my grandma would have cooked.

The atmosphere is great with dinette tables, booths, a counter and stuff on the walls. And you can tell that it’s a good place because they have regulars. An elderly woman who sat near me waited patiently for the waitress to stop by and confirm she wanted her regular order. And did she want hash browns or home fries today?

Another woman had two children in tow, clearly grandkids, who were having fun sipping milkshakes at the counter. Two men in electric company uniforms kidded with the waitress about her tip over their large platters of food.

My service was great, the food was good and it was delivered lickety split – all requirements of a good diner. If you’re in town for the prison, the carousel park or the host of other fun things to do in the area, be sure to stop by for lunch or maybe just an ice cream treat!

Coney Island Diner is located at 98 N. Main Street and they’re open every day except Sunday. Go check ’em out and let me know what you think!


Beauty: Broadening the Definition

Writing about Mansfield this week caused me to revisit pictures of the Ohio State Reformatory where the movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed. I already shared some pictures and the story of this visit but have tons of photos from this day.

I have a broad definition of what is beautiful. Frequent flyers of this blog will see pretty sunrise pictures and images of flowers, buildings and trails that have a traditional appeal to most people. But they also know that I tend to see beauty in things that others would consider common eyesores. I love an old truck in a field. The chipped paint of a tractor or a church that’s seen better days  are common subject matter as well.

My cousin Walter paid me the nicest compliment a while back. He sent me a picture on Facebook of an old barn and it said “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” I love that he noticed and that he sees it too.

An old prison isn’t a traditional place to find beauty but here are some pictures that I find appealing and hope you will too.

Sometimes it’s just the light or the lack of light that I find appealing.



Sometimes it’s the color and texture. Look at those layers of paint, now chipping from the walls, and creating a unique kind of art work. Of course, it’s undoubtedly lead paint so try not to touch it!



Sometimes you can’t put your finger on the quality you like best. It’s just haunting and you know in your soul that it’s good for your eye to see.



Are you able to see beauty in the flawed or would you prefer to look the other way? There’s no correct answer to this question –  I won’t be offended if you don’t like this type of thing! It’s not for everyone and that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be.

The Ohio State Reformatory (Visiting Shawshank)

I guess it comes down to  a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying. 

Andy Dufresne


Part of my birthday gift to myself was a whirlwind trip to Mansfield last week where I toured the Ohio State Reformatory, wandered around downtown with my camera and did some antiquing. And yup, I found a great old diner for lunch too!

The point of the trip was the Reformatory tour. The Shawshank Redemption was filmed here and at other sites in Mansfield so I was pretty excited to have a look.

They offer guided tours but I went for the self guided option for just $15. Perhaps another time but, for that day at least, I just wanted to go at my own pace and play with my camera.

And boy, did I have fun!

If you ask me, The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies of the twentieth century. Not to mention, it doesn’t get much better than Morgan Freeman. So it was interesting to see some of the Shawshank sets and props throughout the tour. But it was equally interesting to see their history exhibits and to just stroll through the old prison.

More than once I heard Morgan Freeman narrating in my head!

The outside of this building is actually quite beautiful and certain aspects of the interior are lovely as well. Even areas where you can see deterioration have a certain quality about them. Hauntingly beautiful is the phrase I’m reaching for here.

I believe the architectural style used on the exterior is called Romanesque – it resembles a castle and is striking.

This facility was constructed between 1886 and 1910 on the site of a former Civil War era training camp for soldiers. The prison operated until a federal court ruling forced it to be closed in 1990. Four years later, the building was not just a setting but almost like another character in the movie Shawshank.

Today, there’s an organization working to preserve and restore the building. From a preservation perspective, I suppose there’s a lot to be done but I loved it exactly as it is.

We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.







I  would not do well in a place like this. I value my space, quiet and privacy far too much. Look at how tight this space is!



The chapel was one of my favorite spaces. The light is spectacular and it truly felt sacred. Isn’t it beautiful?


Want to visit? You can find all the information you need on their website.

There are also a couple of options for touring Shawshank sites around Mansfield –  a bus tour and a self guided tour. There are a lot of other fun things to do in the area, more than I could accomplish in a day so I’ll have to go back sometime. We’ll talk more about the other things I did one day soon.