"What would fans want to see?" -- Bill & April Mullen
Welcome, one and all, to the one and only destination that's 100% dedicated to celebrating the world's favorite movie. Made by fans for the fans.
Scroll down to learn about Bill & April Mullen, the pair who started it all.
And start planning your visit to "Shawshank West."
Located in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, The Shawshank Woodshop is built inside one of the buildings of the former Stephan Lumber Company.
For more than 100 years, men working inside this building produced a wide variety of excellent wood products, including sashes, doors, and molded lumber, as well as turned items, such as porch posts. The company also sold traditional lumber, like wood beams and roof shingles. In 1978, the building survived a devastating fire.
Then in 1993, Warner Brothers was preparing The Shawshank Redemption. The script called for several scenes to be shot inside a prison wood shop.
The film’s location manager, Kokayi Ampah, found and approved the site in Upper Sandusky, and it wasn’t long before writer and director Frank Darabont and cinematographer Roger Deakins were there, filming the wood shop scenes with Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, Gil Bellows, and the rest of the stellar cast.
The town also provided the backdrop for the scenes involving Andy Dufresne’s conviction, as the Wyandot County Courthouse was used for those sequences, all shot just a few blocks away from the wood shop.
Then in 1998, Stephan Lumber cleared out, and the wood shop began to fall into disrepair, just as national interest in the movie began to build.
At around the time of its ten-year anniversary, in 2004, local residents and shop owners began to notice the growing influx of tourists, all inquiring about the various filming locations that appeared in The Shawshank Redemption.
Among those sharp-eyed local residents? Bill and April Mullen.
Seeing an opportunity, they wondered about buying former woodworking building, with a question and a dream:
What if we can turn it into a tourist destination, and satisfy the growing interest in the movie?
After all, they thought, it’s not every day that a popular motion picture gets made in your “own backyard.”
The first thing Bill had to do was actually see the film for the first time.
“You could say I had some catching up to do,” Bill chuckles. “It was available to rent for about 10 years... I had no excuse for never having seen it. So I went out and bought the movie on every format ever made, and of course, I loved it. I saw right away why it’s considered a masterpiece, because it is!”
Rolling the dice, Bill and April bought the building, and began to scrape together the funds needed to restore it to its filmic glory.
That’s how the Ohio couple set in motion a series of events that led to the creation of the Shawshank Woodshop Museum, and eventually, the development of the Shawshank Trail, the annual 5K Shawshank Hustle races, the movie-reunion weekends and anniversary parties, and the burgeoning tourism businesses based in the towns in which the world’s favorite movie was shot.
“We started out by asking ourselves, ‘What would people want to see?’ We’ve been working hard to answer that question as best we could, ever since,” says April, with a proud smile.
How did Mr Gunton get involved? What's the story behind Lady Justice, the statue on top of the courthouse where Andy Dufresne was convicted? And how did the Mullens end up with one of the "keys" to Shawshank State Prison?
Plan your visit to The Shawshank Woodshop today, and ask Bill and April to tell you -- in person -- you'll marvel at the rest of the incredible, entrepreneurial story.