Pennhurst Insane Asylum is located in Spring City in a state of
Pennsylvania, United States. Pennsylvania Legislature authorized funds
to construct a large complex that became known as Eastern Pennsylvania
State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic. Pennhurst State School and
Hospital was completed in 1908 with intention to help physically and
mentally disabled individuals to some degree of rehabilitation. It
was very sophisticated and advanced at the time. In the beginning of
the century belief in human ability to heal everything was very
high. Pennhurst Hospital was one of the first large complexes that were
intended to help patients. It was built on a 1400 acre area this
state of the art school could house up to 3,500 patients at a time.
The place was virtually self sufficient with 300 bed hospital with
two surgeons on call, general store, barber shop, firehouse, green
house and even its power plant that generated electricity. Besides
farms nearby that grew most of the food that was needed in Pennhurst. Buildings on the property are all named after cities in Pennsylvania and many are linked by tunnels that were used among others for
transportation of patients. The buildings were separated on asylum
department that took care of the people deemed dangerous for the
society. Another part of the complex was intended for education purposes
and was called school. In order to supply this large settlement
Pennsylvania Railroad created a Pennhurst Station to deliver coal, new
patients and medical necessities for the hospital.
From 1903 to 1908, the first buildings were constructed on 633.913
acres (256.535 ha) of Crab Hill in Spring City, Pennsylvania,
Chester County on what was referred to as the lower campus. Out of
the first few buildings constructed, 'F' was the Girl's Dining Room,
'G' was the Kitchen and Store Room, 'H', 'I' and 'K' were a Cottage
for Girls, 'N' was the Boys' Dining Room, 'P' was the Teacher's
Home, 'Q', T', 'U' and 'V' were a Cottage for Boys, 'R' was a
School, 'W' was Laundry and Sewing, and 'X' was the Power House.
'P' was used as a temporary Administration building until the
institution's opening in 1918 along with the opening of 'L' and 'M'
in 1919. In 1921, Whitman and Wilson I and II were constructed along
with Penn Hall for employee housing; in 1929, the Assembly building
was complete and functioned as the gymnasium and auditorium.
The buildings on lower campus are currently labeled with letters
such as 'F', 'I', 'K', 'P', 'Q', 'R', 'N', 'U', 'V', 'T', 'W' and
'X' with names later assigned in the 1960s (see below).
1930, the first buildings on the upper campus, otherwise known as
the Female Colony, were completed and named Pershing, Buchanan,
Audubon and Keystone. Capitol Hall was erected after World War II
along with Devon constructed on lower campus. Horizon Hall opened
later in 1971.
Eugenics in Pennhurst Hospital
Pennhurst School and Hospital appear at the time when
eugenics become quiet popular in the Western World. Eugenics is a
"science" of genetic composition of human population. Its theory stated
that who were not smart enough or strong enough should be simply
segregated from the rest of society to prevent breeding. Few decades
later this World view will massacre millions of untermenschen (sub-
human in German) in concentration camps, but in the early century it was
a fairly noble and acceptable theory. Many patients were forced to
relocate here and subsequently castrated or sterilized.
who came to Pennhurst sanatorium came for different reasons. Some were stuck
here by court order, others were brought by relatives or guardians in
hopes that medicine will cure all problems. There was no definite
distinction between mental retardation and psychological deviation. Many
kids with fairly high IQ, but violent or harmful tendencies were brought
to the same classrooms as kids with very low mental capacity. Obviously
this made things only worse allowing these deviations to take full turn.
The doctors were less than empathetic toward their patients. Chief
Physician of Pennhurst State School and Hospital Henry H. Goddard once
Every feeble-minded person is a potential criminal. The general
public, although more convinced today than ever before that it is a good
thing to segregate the idiot or the distinct imbecile, they have not as
yet been convinced as to the proper treatment of the defective
delinquent, which is the brighter and more dangerous individual.
Closing of Pennhurst
It came apparent
that Pennhurst State School did not live up to its task. Injustices that occurred in Insane
Asylum came to light in 1968 thanks to Bill Baldini,
correspondent of local CBS 10 station. After Hospital vs Halderman case
that had accusations of violations of Eighth (cruel and unusual
punishments) and Fourteenth Amendments (unfair deprivation of life,
liberty, or property) its fate was
sealed. Terry Lee Halderman, a former resident of the hospital exposed
unsanitary and simply dangerous conditions that existed here. Pennhurst
Insane Asylum was full of screams of abandoned children and grown ups.
Over three thousand of its patients did not have enough staff to care
for them and most of them had only 3 minutes of psychiatric treatment in
a single year. Besides cases of physical and sexual abuse arose on a
large scale. Many kids that were biting each other got a warning. In
case second case of biting arose all teeth were pulled out to prevent
further attacks on each other. In fact it was proven that most patients
experienced decrease in their mental, physical and intellectual skills. Pennhurst State School closed its doors on December 9th, 1987.
Suffer the Little Children (1968)
part of Pennhurst Hospital is transformed into
Hospital, but many part of the former school are still in the same condition as
they were before. Many ghost hunters and urban explorers come here for
the thrill. Much of the former artifacts are still in place. You can
find even patient’s folders with their histories. However police can
arrest and fine you if you get caught. Although it rarely happens and in
most cases they will just throw you out.
Ghost Haunting in Pennhurst Hospital
Pennhurst Hospital Complex is believed to be haunted by
spirits of people who either perished there or once worked here. Below
is the list of some of the most haunted places in the hospital.
of Pennhurst Hospital
Quaker Hall was
reserved for the violent patients of Pennhurst. Needless to
say violence and sadistic abuse was prevalent here. In
theory this part of the asylum was meant to separate
aggressive members of the small semi- independent community.
Here they would learn to cope with their pattern of
aggression and violence. Once they would rehabilitate it was
expected that they would move to other parts of the complex
once they cease to pose any threat to themselves and others.
However in reality overcrowding made this dream virtually
impossible. Stronger patients would pick on weaker ones and
understaffed nurses either couldn't or wouldn't do anything
about it. Over time violent patients became worse as their
tendencies were left unchecked.
It is part of
must see buildings in the Pennhurst Asylum. The most common
apparition that is seen here is a that of a woman standing
in a white gown in front of the window. Attempting to locate
or catch this "prankster" left ghost hunters baffled as the
buildings was empty upon further inspection. Many also
people claimed to have experienced violent outburst of
unseen force that pinched, hit and harmed visitors and ghost
Hall of Pennhurst Hospital
This is another
part of the Pennhurst Hospital that is famous for ghostly
Candy land of
Influx of new
patients and lack of proper funding forced administration of
the complex to improvise with the buildings they already
had. Some one came up with a bright idea of housing patients
in the basement of some of the buildings. One of the most
famous of such new additional rooms is a place called Candy
Land. It is covered by murals intended to entertain children
or those who were stuck intellectually at a level of a
of Pennhurst Hospital
Hall is famous for a ghost of a forceful and aggressive
male. Some reported hearing commands from unseen spirit.
Others heart direct threats towards unwelcome visitors. It
is widely believed if these are not just the voices in
people heads, it must be the voice of an orderly "Clark"
that still sticks around to push patients around. People who
visited Pennhurst asylum reported several violent encounters
with this entity.