Mansfield, Ohio

Nestled in the heart of Ohio lies Mansfield, an extraordinary city brimming with history and cultural exuberance. This vibrant metropolis harmoniously blends the allure of urban living with the serene splendor of its natural surroundings, fashioning an unparalleled residential milieu. Revered for its profound legacy, thriving artistic realm, and a plethora of captivating attractions such as the illustrious Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield Motorsports Park, and the enchanting Kingwood Center Gardens, Mansfield emerges as a city where age-old traditions converge with contemporary progress, and the tranquil cadence of everyday life intertwines with a vivacious sense of community. 

Whether you are a cherished resident or a curious visitor, this mid-sized city extends a warm invitation to immerse yourself in the embrace of its close-knit community, bask in the charm of its picturesque landscapes, and revel in the allure of its rich cultural tapestry.

About Mansfield Ohio

Mansfield, Ohio, a vibrant city and the county seat of Richland County, is situated in the western foothills of the Allegheny Plateau. Nestled midway between Columbus and Cleveland along Interstate 71, Mansfield thrives as part of the Northeast Ohio region. The city's location places it approximately 65 miles (105 km) southwest of Cleveland, 45 miles (72 km) southwest of Akron, and 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Columbus.

With a population of 47,437, Mansfield offers a dense suburban atmosphere to its residents, many of whom choose to rent their homes. The town is nestled within Richland County, where families form a significant portion of the community, often leaning toward conservative values.

Founded in 1808, Mansfield resides at the confluence of the Mohican River's forks, surrounded by fertile farmlands and rolling hills. Over time, the city evolved into a prominent manufacturing hub due to its strategic position with several railroad lines. While heavy manufacturing declined, Mansfield's economy has diversified into a robust service sector, encompassing retail, education, and healthcare. 

According to the 2020 Census, the city's population reached 47,534, solidifying its position as the 21st-largest city in Ohio. Additionally, Mansfield serves as the anchor for the Mansfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which boasted 124,936 residents in 2020. Furthermore, the Mansfield–Bucyrus, OH Combined Statistical Area (CSA) encompassed 219,408 residents.

"The Fun Center of Ohio" stands as Mansfield's official nickname, reflecting its status as the largest city in the Mid-Ohio region. This region generally extends from Marion, Delaware, Knox, Morrow, Crawford, Ashland, and Richland counties in the south to the Firelands area south of Sandusky in the north. Mansfield has earned various other monikers, including the "Carousel Capital of Ohio," "Danger City," "Little Flint," "Little Detroit," "Little Chicago," "The Queen of Ohio," and the "Racing Capital of Ohio."

Downtown Mansfield, anchored by the Richland Carousel District, beckons visitors with its array of attractions and arts venues. Notably, the downtown Brickyard venue has hosted concert events drawing crowds exceeding 5,000 people. In an effort to combat blight and economic stagnation, Mansfield collaborates with local and national partners to revitalize the city center. The Renaissance Performing Arts Association finds its home in the historic Renaissance Theatre, delivering Broadway-style productions, classical music, comedy shows, arts education programs, concerts, lectures, and family events, captivating an audience of over 50,000 individuals annually. The Renaissance Performing Arts also serves as the residence of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, downtown Mansfield boasts two ballet companies, NEOS Ballet Theatre and Richland Academy Dance Ensemble, both offering performances and community dance opportunities. For those seeking operatic experiences, Mid-Ohio Opera stages full opera productions and smaller concerts.

History of Mansfield - A Historic Ohio Town

Early Origins and Founding

The city of Mansfield traces its roots back to its establishment in June 1808 as a settlement by James Hedges, Joseph Larwell, and Jacob Newman. They meticulously laid out and platted the town, inspired by the vision of Colonel Jared Mansfield, the esteemed United States Surveyor General who oversaw its planning. Initially, Mansfield took shape as a square, known today as the public square or Central Park. Notably, in the same year of its founding, Samuel Martin constructed a log cabin on lot 97 (now the location of the H.L. Reed building), becoming the inaugural and solitary dwelling in Mansfield during 1808. Martin resided in the cabin during the winter months, albeit engaging in the illicit sale of whiskey to Native Americans, leading to his subsequent flight from the country. In 1809, James Cunningham became the cabin's new occupant. 

At that time, Richland County boasted fewer than a dozen settlers, and the state of Ohio remained largely untouched wilderness. To safeguard against potential threats during the War of 1812, two blockhouses were swiftly erected on the public square, serving as fortifications against colonial and Native American allies. These blockhouses materialized overnight. Following the conclusion of the war, Richland County's first courthouse and jail were housed within one of the blockhouses until 1816. Eventually, the blockhouse transformed into a school, with Eliza Wolf taking on the role of teacher.

Growth and Progression

Mansfield officially gained incorporation as a village in 1828 and later achieved city status in 1857, with a population of 5,121 residents. The advent of railroads between 1846 and 1863 ushered in a new era for the city. The Sandusky, Mansfield and Newark Railroad became the first to reach Mansfield in 1846, followed by the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway in 1849 and the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in 1863. As the rail lines expanded, Mansfield emerged as a prominent center for manufacturing and trade during the late 1880s. 

The city's strategic location along four major railroad routes propelled its industrial prowess. Numerous manufacturing enterprises flourished within Mansfield, producing a diverse range of goods, including brass items, doors, linseed oil, paper boxes, suspenders, and various other products. In 1888, Hautzenroeder & Company, a cigar manufacturer, held the distinction of being Mansfield's largest employer, with a workforce of 285 individuals. That same year, Frank B. Black embarked on his entrepreneurial journey, establishing the Ohio Brass Company with a $5,000 loan from relatives. This brass foundry specialized in crafting brass and bronze castings, stem brass goods, electric railway supplies, and more. By 1890, Mansfield's population had surged to 13,473 inhabitants.

20th and 21st Century Developments

In 1908, as Mansfield celebrated its centennial, the blockhouse became an enduring symbol of the city's heritage. The year 1929 witnessed the relocation of the blockhouse to its current site in South Park.

Mansfield played a significant role in the tire industry with the founding of the Mansfield Tire and Rubber Company in 1912, which manufactured automobile tires. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the Mansfield tire brand stood alongside renowned names such as Goodyear, Goodrich, Firestone, and Uniroyal as one of the "Big Four" tire manufacturers. The Mansfield Tire and Rubber Company experienced growth throughout the 1950s and 1960s before encountering decline in the 1970s. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980s, ultimately ceasing operations in 1979 and leaving 1,721 employees jobless.

In 1913, Mansfield faced significant flooding during the Great Flood of 1913, which brought substantial rainfall of 3 to 8 inches (76 to 203 mm) across Ohio between March 24 and 25. The arrival of the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road in the United States, in 1913 fostered economic expansion in Mansfield. Noteworthy in 1924, Oak Hill Cottage, an exquisite Gothic Revival brick house constructed in 1847 by John Robinson, superintendent of the Sandusky, Mansfield and Newark Railroad, served as the setting for "The Green Bay Tree," the debut novel by Mansfield native Louis Bromfield.

In 1927, the impressive nine-story Leland Hotel was erected downtown on the southwest corner of Park Avenue West and South Walnut Street at a cost of $556,000. Upon completion, it became Mansfield's tallest building. Architect Vernon Redding, responsible for designing notable structures such as the Mansfield Public Library, Farmers Bank Building, Mansfield Savings Bank Building, and Mansfield General Hospital, lent his expertise to the Leland Hotel. However, the hotel was demolished in 1976 to create space for a parking lot. The sole remaining remnant of the Leland Hotel is the compass rose, embedded in the Walnut Street sidewalk, marking the original location of the hotel's entrance.

Like many cities in the Rust Belt, Mansfield experienced urban decay and the loss of significant blue-collar manufacturing jobs during the 1970s and 1980s. However, recent years have witnessed a revitalization of Mansfield's downtown area, once emblematic of economic hardships. Main Street Mansfield, now known as Downtown Mansfield, Inc., has played a pivotal role in spearheading innovative revitalization efforts and fostering new business growth. In 1993, Lydia Reid made history by becoming Mansfield's first female mayor, serving three four-year terms and becoming the city's longest-serving mayor. Reid's tenure ended in 2007, succeeded by Donald Culliver, the city's first African-American mayor.

In December 2009, Mansfield faced fiscal challenges and was placed under fiscal watch by the state auditor due to substantial deficits in its general funds. Subsequently, on August 19, 2010, Mansfield earned the distinction of being Ohio's largest city to declare fiscal emergency, burdened by a $3.8 million deficit resulting from a failure to implement cost-saving measures and reduce spending, largely attributed to the impact of the Great Recession. The city remained in a state of financial emergency for nearly four years until finally emerging from it on July 9, 2014.

Things to Do In Mansfield Ohio

Ohio State Reformatory
100 Reformatory Rd, 
Mansfield, OH 44905

A historic prison turned museum, the Ohio State Reformatory is best known as the filming location for "The Shawshank Redemption". Visitors can explore the cells, corridors, and various exhibits about the prison's history.
Ohio State Reformatory - Mansfield Ohio - Front Facade
Niagara66, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Mansfield Motorsports Park
400 Crall Rd E, Mansfield, OH 44903

A thrilling destination for motorsports enthusiasts, the park hosts several racing events throughout the year, including drag racing and truck racing, providing a high-octane experience for spectators.


Mansfield Motor Park in Mansfield Ohio - Track Ring
Dany3000, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Kingwood Center Gardens
50 N Trimble Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906

This 47-acre former estate is a beautiful spot to visit, with landscaped gardens, greenhouses, and a historic mansion. It's a haven for plant and nature lovers, offering workshops and special events throughout the year.


Kingwood Center Gardens Mansfield Ohio - Flowers in Full Bloom
2old at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Richland Carrousel Park
75 N Main St, Mansfield, OH 44902

A delightful attraction for families, the park features a hand-carved wooden carousel, one of the first built and operated in the US since the early 1930s. Besides the carousel, the park also has a gift shop and a snack bar.


Richland Carrousel Park in Mansfield, OH - Entrance with Flowers
OHWiki, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Mansfield Art Center
700 Marion Ave, Mansfield, OH 44906, 

This community-oriented center showcases a range of visual arts, with galleries exhibiting works from local, regional, and national artists. They also offer art classes and workshops for all ages.


Mansfield Art Center in Mansfield Ohio - Picture of Building
OHWiki, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Renaissance Theatre
138 Park Ave W, Mansfield, OH 44902

An historic venue that hosts live performances, concerts, and films. The Renaissance Theatre is a cornerstone of the local arts scene and provides a stunning backdrop for various performances.


The Renaissance Ohio Theatre Mansfield Texas - Street View
OHWiki, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Little Buckeye Children's Museum
44 W 4th St, Mansfield, OH 44902

A hands-on children's museum with over 30 interactive exhibits to stimulate learning and imagination. It's a perfect place for kids to play and learn at the same time.
Buckeye Imagination Museum - Mansfield Ohio - Image of Entrance
Biblewalk
500 Tingley Ave, Mansfield, OH 44905

One of the largest biblical wax museums in the nation, Biblewalk features life-size dioramas and figures depicting scenes from the Bible. It offers an immersive and unique spiritual journey.


BibleWalk Mansfield OH - Image of Sign
JBTHEMILKER, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The top 10 benefits of living in Mansfield, Ohio

  1. Small-Town Charm with City Amenities: Mansfield combines the advantages of small-town living, such as a close-knit community and a slower pace of life, with the amenities you'd expect in a larger city, including shopping, dining, and various entertainment options.
  2. Affordability: Compared to many other cities in Ohio and the United States, Mansfield tends to have a lower cost of living, making it more affordable for housing, groceries, and other everyday expenses.
  3. Historical Significance: The city is rich in history, home to the famous Ohio State Reformatory and numerous other landmarks. This creates a unique and interesting living environment.
  4. Arts and Culture Scene: Mansfield boasts a vibrant arts scene with a community theater, art center, and numerous events and festivals held throughout the year.
  5. Access to Nature: With several parks, nature centers, and hiking trails in and around the city, residents have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and stay active.
  6. Convenient Location: Mansfield is advantageous for those exploring other parts of Ohio. It's roughly equidistant from Cleveland and Columbus, making visiting these larger cities for additional amenities and attractions easy.
  7. Community Involvement: Residents of Mansfield have numerous opportunities to get involved in their community, whether through local charities, community events, or local government.
  8. Education Opportunities: Mansfield has various education options, from public and private schools for K-12 students to higher education opportunities like North Central State College and a branch of Ohio State University.
  9. Local Economy: Mansfield has a diverse economy with opportunities in industries such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, and retail.
  10. Quality Healthcare: Mansfield is home to top-notch healthcare facilities, including OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, ensuring residents can access quality medical care when needed.

These are just some of the many reasons residents enjoy living in Mansfield. As always, the benefits can vary depending on personal preferences and lifestyle.

Mansfield Ohio - Where is it?

Mansfield is located at 40°45′17″N 82°31′22″W (40.754856, −82.522855), directly between Columbus and Cleveland, however, the city lies in the western foothills of the Allegheny Plateau, and its elevation is among the highest of Ohio cities. The highest point in the city 1,493 feet (455 m) above sea level is located at the Woodland Reservoir, an underground water storage (service reservoir) along Woodland Road in southwest Mansfield. The elevation in downtown Mansfield, which is located at Central Park is 1,240 feet (378 m) above sea level, and at Mansfield Lahm Airport, the elevation is 1,293 feet (394 m) above sea level. The highest point in Richland County, second highest point in Ohio (after Campbell Hill) is between 1,510 feet (460 m) and 1,520 feet (463 m) above sea level is located southwest of the city, just off Lexington-Ontario Road at Apple Hill Orchards in Springfield Township.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.92 square miles (80.08 km2), of which, 30.87 square miles (79.95 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) is water.