Bissman Building

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Four spirits reside for a variety of reasons:
murder, work ethic, protection and frustration.

The paranormal hot sports in the building guarantee
that investigators never leave empty-handed.


Nickname: The Dead Souls Studio

This once-beautiful, four story, rectangular building, stretching back from the street a whole block, was built to last the ages, with an iron framed facade. Though it has suffered from the ravages of time, elements of its former beauty still shine through.

It has an early Romanesque Gothic exterior, reminding the visitor of the Mansfield Reformatory, as it was designed by the same architect. The interiors are done in the High Victorian Italianate style, presenting the right atmosphere to conduct business in rooms on the first floor.

The two front inside rooms have Eastlake panels, that complement the fancy decor, such as the ornate, engraved fireplaces. One of the office walls displays pictures of the first five patriarchs that ran the grocery wholesale and retail distribution centers. They also started their own brands of coffee, Red Ban Java Blend, Steel Cut, and Acme, which they served fresh every day.

Besides coffee, they sold their own hand-rolled Cuban cigars, private labeled canned goods, and a variety of alcoholic drinks.

This was also the gathering place of paranormal researchers who came to investigate, as well as others taking the ghost or history tours, or coming to see the sets left from Shawshank Redemption filming.

Somewhere in the building, owner Ben Bissman runs his printing business.

Otherwise, the upper floors are now mostly empty, and used for storage space, as the interior needs to be renovated for modern businesses to be able to use the rooms.

There is also a basement and garage, used for storage and the owner’s cars and memorabilia. The ghost tours came to the basement area as well as touring all the floors. Paranormal investigators also went all over the building, while the Shawshank enthusiasts stayed on the first floor.



This building was the dream of one man, Peter Bissman, who as a boy immigrated with his family, led by his father Michael. The family traveled by steamship, from Germany’s Hessen-Darmstadt Rhine Valley area in 1853, settling in Mifflin, Ohio. His first job as a boy was working as a packer for an independent grocery distributor, The Tracy and Avery Company.

What he learned there encouraged him to open up his own wholesale business in 1876, called The Bissman Company. It moved into the first floor of the building that is still located on the corner of 4th and Main Street. It is currently the home of the Richland Carrousel Park.

Peter’s business boomed to such a level that in 1886, he bought some land in the industrial section of town on N. Main Street, and built his dream business building, made complete with a clock tower. As they profited from receiving, warehousing, and distributing groceries, it was built at an angle near the railroad tracks.

Their success continued for ninety years. The mom and pop grocers would come to buy dry and canned goods for their customers. Larger retail grocers would have their orders delivered to them, at first by Bissman’s carriages drawn by horses. With the invention of the automobile, Bissman Company had its own vans with their name and logo on the sides of each one.

By the 1930s, there were twenty large chimneys located on the north and south rims of the Bissman building, letting the aroma of their own fresh-brewed coffee fill the air. This was the best advertisement to draw in coffee enthusiasts on their way to work. In the afternoon, the company’s own brand of peanuts were roasting, providing another heavenly smell.

On the upper floors, workers sorted and packed orders, prepared the bags of coffee and peanuts to sell, and did other kinds of work required for a wholesale grocery business. Products were also stored there for distribution.

The Bissman Company continued strong as a wholesale grocery business through the Depression, WW2, all the way through 1976. Their beer distribution business persisted until 2007. Ben Bissman started his printing business in the building, and offering storage to other businesses.

The Bissman building was in need of maintenance, but where to get the money to do so?

Luckily, filmmakers discovered this historic building, resulting in hundreds of movie productions being filmed here. The most well-known of these was The Shawshank Redemption, though most of the filming was done at The Mansfield Reformatory. In one of the Bissman’s first floor rooms, the production crew set up the “Portland Daily Bugle” editor-in-chief’s office, while the front of the Bissman Building had new signage, the Brewer Hotel for filming in the movie.

Another way to bring in funds also appeared. After having personal paranormal experiences themselves, the family decided to open up their building to paranormal enthusiasts. They began ghost, history and Shawshank tours, while also letting paranormal groups from all over the world come and investigate.

T.V movies and paranormal shows also came to film, most notably Syfy’s Ghost Hunters in 2010, The Biography Channel’s My Ghost Story, and DestinationAmerica’s Ghost Asylum.

In 2017, the Bissman family sold the building to local businessman Jim Oberlin. According to writer Lou Whitmore in his Dec 27th 2018 article in the Mansfield Journal covering the 2018 auction, Jim Oberline didn’t know what he was going to do with the building yet.

The Bissmans had an auction, selling many historical items to clear out some of it

They continued with the paranormal events and tours until the end of 2023, perhaps because Oberlin was ready to be in control.


People who suffer awful ends at the hands of others sometimes are stuck where they were murdered, finding things in this world to keep their minds off the horror of it all.

Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens, CO (Two young women were murdered by a fellow tenant. Their spirits stay in their former room, and forget about how they died by watching the living, and making friends with the other spectral residents who support them).

Glensheen Mansion and the Congdon Estates, MN (Matron Elizabeth and her faithful nurse Velma Pietela were violently murdered by the couple from hell, her daughter Marjorie who planned it, and the killer, hubby Rodger. Rather than focus on the betrayal, they have found peace by enjoying the property and watching the living enjoy it too).

Wabasha Street Caves, MN (During Prohibition, four gangsters were playing cards on a table in front of the Fireside Room’s handsome, stone fireplace. They were executed by a rival gang member, leaving bullet holes in the fireplace mantel. The spirits of these four men find comfort by enjoying the living’s activities, parties and wedding receptions, and interacting with children).

Bissman Building, OH (The traumatized spirit of Peter Bissman’s granddaughter, nine-year-old Ruthie, was assaulted and brutally murdered in the building’s basement and found in a pickle barrel. She finds comfort through interacting with the spirit of her aunt, living people, and finding ways to play).


When a family member dies, sometimes a spirit from the family will stay to offer love, protection, and keep them company, especially if it is a child who died.

Saint James Hotel, NM (The spirit of two-year-old Johnny is having a blast getting into mischief at the hotel, while the spirit of his mother watches over him).

The Levy House, NV (The spirit of a very active young girl is still like a ball of fire. The spirit of her uncle keeps her company and watches out for her).

Shanley Hotel, NY (The spirit of a little girl who drowned in the hotel’s well has the company of the spirit of her daddy).

Bissman Building, OH (The spirit of Ruthie has the love and support of the spirit of her aunt).


The Spirits of people who have a hard time accepting how they died, are often restless, agitated, and won’t move on.

Brumder Mansion, WI (A successful Milwaukee practitioner, Dr. Wyatt, his wife Leslie, and their nine-year-old son Adam, had rented the whole third floor of the Brumder during the late 1930s. He and his son were killed in a car accident in the early 1940s, which frustrated the spirit of Dr. Wyatt who remained. He didn’t accept his death and didn’t leave until the Christmas of 2022, after his story had been told many times, and he finally found peace about his sudden death).

The Willamette Heritage Center, OR (A male workman who was trying to work on a turbine that was either still on or accidentally turned on while he was working on it, was killed in a painful way. His spirit is still angry, creating a heavy atmosphere in the place where he died).

The Fort Worden Guard House Building, OH (A workman is still fuming at himself about his accidental death, that happened when he was cleaning his gun).

Bissman Building, OH (On his last workday, a retiring employee, floor manager F. W. Simon, was in the process of saying goodbye to fellow workers on the floor below by sticking his head in the empty elevator shaft. One moment of inattention caused him to be decapitated by the elevator. He is still very upset, and doesn’t accept his death).

Bissman Building, OH (Ruthie’s life was violently taken from her by someone she knew. She cannot rest, as she wants her life back like it was beforehand, and still fears the spirit of her killer).


In their afterlives, murderers often find themselves drawn to the same place where they did their evil deeds. Sometimes they are afraid that the spirits of their victims will tell what they did, so they try to intimidate them into being silent.

Ashley’s of Rockledge, FL (A foul-tempered male spirit, thought to be the killer of Ethel Allen, hangs around, perhaps not happy that the spirit of Ethel is spilling the beans, showing the living how she died).

Joshua Ward House (Merchant Inn), MA (The evil spirit of Sheriff George Corwin is stuck in the basement where he sadistically tortured and killed suspected witches. Two spirits of his victims are still in the house, angry that he is there too).

S.K. Pierce Mansion, MA (A prostitute who had rented a room for her sex work, was murdered by one of her clients, Dave, a real sweetheart. Whenever she tries to tell the living what happened to her, the spirit of Dave interferes, stopping her from doing so).

Bissman Building, OH (According to EVPs, Ruthie is afraid of an evil spirit that visits the building. He may have been the person who brutally murdered Ruthie. He may be checking to see if she told on him).


When a person’s murder is covered up, the victim may want their story told.

Stone’s Public House, MA (A card shark was accused of cheating and was murdered inadvertently in a fight with a relative of the owner. His body was buried in an unmarked grave in the dirt basement. His spirit wants the truth to be known).

The King’s Tavern, MS (The Owner, Mr. King, started to have an affair with a pretty young server, Madelene. Mrs. King had her murdered, and her body was bricked up in the chimney along with two other men that Mrs. King didn’t like either).

Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House, NM (During the 2000s, a local young woman disappeared, probably kidnapped and killed. Her body was never found. Her spirit found her way to this building, where she expresses her anger and frustration).

Bissman Building, OH (Ruthie was murdered probably by one of the employees, or perhaps by a family friend. To protect whoever killed her, or to avoid the publicity, Ruthie’s death was hidden as it wasn’t reported to the authorities. Her body was rumored to be buried in the basement instead of the family plot in the cemetery. She may want her grave to be with the family plot, and her murderer revealed).



The Spirit of F.W. Simon

He is a restless, grumpy soul whose feelings are felt by the living.

He doesn’t like the living much, perhaps a bit annoyed that they are alive and he isn’t.

As there are still spirits of past employees here, he may still be working as a supervisor to keep his mind off his freaky death.

His Personal Appearances

An unseen presence follows living people around the building, making them a little on edge.

When a Bissman family member was going up the central staircase, he felt a cold invisible hand push his back to encourage him to go faster.

Sometimes he shows the living what happened to him by showing the apparition of just his head by the elevator.

His spirit brings a heaviness into the room.

The Spirit of Ruthie’s Murderer

He can appear as a menacing black shadow. While alive, he was a monster.

He hates women it seems, and has no regrets on attacking them.

He possessed briefly a female paranormal investigator, attacking her and leaving bright red marks on her body.

Scared Silent

His presence terrifies the spirit of Ruthie who leaves when he visits.

She is scared to tell anything about her murder or her killer.

The Spirit of Ruthie

She is a nine-year-old girl, dressed in attire of the 19th/early 20th century.

Her favorite floor is the fourth, where the spirit of her aunt resides.

She tries to find things to amuse herself, like any nine-year-old would do, making the best of her situation.

She is friendly toward the living, always willing to communicate through EVPs.

She wants help from the living who come in contact with her.

Her Personal Appearances

Her presence is felt by many, as she goes about playing and watching the living.

She is often seen by mediums when they come to visit.

One medium saw her standing on the central staircase.

Investigators have felt her cold spot when she is near them.

The Spirit of Ruthie’s Aunt

She also likes the fourth floor.

Her spirit stays with Ruthie as a loving protecter and companion.

She also communicates with investigators.

Third Floor Spirits from Past Business Endeavors

These spirits are connected to former businesses that were located there.

They come to work through a vortex on the third floor, a doorway from the spirit world.

Foot steps and disembodied voices are heard.

Dark shadows and apparitions go about their business as they relive their work duties.

Unhappy but Cooperative Bunch

Their heavy feelings of unhappiness, and premonitions permeate this space.

The darkness and stillness are unsettling.

Some intelligent spirits participate by answering questions via EVPs.

During EVP sessions, spirits have told their names. The names given were of those people who used to work here.


Personal experiences with the spirits have long been the case for people working and visiting this building.

A lot of hard evidence has also been caught by both novice and experienced paranormal investigators, leaving no doubt that there were spectral residents.

If you go to the evidence section on, check out the ParaHunt videos with Dr. Lou, who had meaningful conversations with Ruthie.

Because of the hauntings, paranormal TV shows such as TAPS have come. The Bissman family decided to put their spirits to work, and started offering ghost tours and paranormal investigations, as well as renting to paranormal groups from all over the world, which brought in needed funds to restore the huge building.



If the spirits were not helped, then Yes Indeed, the spirits remain, trying to work through what is keeping them here.

However, as of the fall of 2023, all tours and investigations were ended. Why? There are three possible reasons.

The official reason was that times had changed for the family, who wanted to stop all the paranormal activities. Perhaps the Bissmans are retiring, and getting ready to move out because the new owner Oberlin was ready to take over the building. They did have a huge sale of various items that had been sitting in the building for years.

The paranormal events may have become too risky and they feared that someone may be hurt seriously.

Or, perhaps the spirit of Ruthie and others finally got the help they needed to go to the light, thanks to the efforts of mediums and perhaps an exorcist brought in by the new owner Oberlin, who may want to reinvent the use of the building. If this happened, the spirit of the aunt probably went with Ruthie’s spirit. The spirit of F.W. Simon was finally counseled by a medium and now has peace in the spirit world.

The spirit of the murderer was hopefully banished, and/or has no reason to come anymore because the spirit of Ruthie is gone. Hopefully the vortex on the third floor was also closed, preventing any spirit from coming back. Hopefully, all the spirits now know that they are truly retired from their life’s work.

I sincerely hope that the third reason is why the paranormal business was shut down, because all the spirits had left, leaving the building clear of spirits, and ready to be renovated and have a work life once more under new ownership.

If the spirits are still there, perhaps the new owner plans to reopen the building to paranormal groups, and offer once again the history and ghost tours that the Bissman family had started.



193 N Main St
Mansfield, OH 44903

The Bissman Building is located on a one-way street going south, N. Main Street, near the intersection of W. 5th Street. In order to arrive, you must go up to W. 6th Street and turn right onto N. Main Street.

Head east on W 6th St toward Bowman Street

Turn right onto N. Main Street. The destination will be on the right.


  • History, Hollywood and hauntings found at Bissman Building
Haunts in Ohio