Pennhurst Asylum, Pennsylvania
The mentally ill were not always cared for in the regards that they are today. The asylums that were once built to contain the mentally ill were no less than prisons where torturous methods of “treatment” were used, and because of these cruel acts and trapped souls, these buildings make up some of the most haunted locations throughout the country. Today we visit Pennhurst Asylum, located in Spring City, Pennsylvania. Ghost Hunts USA loves being able to challenge our comfort levels by going through places that are known for their terrifying stories. If you’re interested in pushing your haunted tour experience to the next level, then it’s time you learn more about the Pennhurst Haunted Asylum.
The first building of the Pennhurst campus was built in 1903, with the other buildings to follow in the years leading up to 1908. The campus was originally built as the Pennhurst state school and hospital, but it is better known as the asylum that it became. The building itself is beautifully constructed with incredible detail throughout the rooms in each building. The initial campus had a girl’s dining room, a kitchen and storeroom, a cottage for the girls, the boy’s dining room, a laundry and sewing room, housing for teachers, and more. The buildings are currently labeled with letters like ‘F’, ‘I’, ‘K’, ‘Q’, ‘U’, ‘T’, ‘X’, and a few other letters. The school gave specific names to each of the buildings and halls later on, but the original letters can still be used to recognize the different buildings today.
The first patient was admitted on November 23, 1908. It didn’t take long for this building to fill up. In only four short years, the hospital was overcrowded and under pressure. This was a hospital that would take immigrants, orphans, elderly and criminals, so they received more traffic than other hospitals at times. Every person that was admitted to the hospital went through a classification process for the staff to better understand what needed to be done moving forward. Patients would be marked as epileptic or healthy, imbecile or insane, and then be graded based upon the overall treatment of their teeth. Once they were classified, patients would be assigned to different industries where they would take up jobs working in the building. While the campus wasn’t always incredibly large, there were quite a few opportunities that they were able to work in; sewing, laundry, baking, painting, shoemaking and repair, farming, grading, and plenty of other jobs throughout the campus.
In 1913 the Commission for the Care of the Feeble-Minded stated that mentally ill and disabled citizens were a menace to the peace, and they required custodial care. The same statement required that genders and races be separated from one another for their own good and the good of society, which is when the different housing facilities opened up. This is the way that the school and hospital functioned for quite some time, up until a major exposure.
In the year 1968, the conditions of the Pennhurst school and hospital were exposed in a five-part report on the local NBC 10 news program. A man by the name of Bill Baldini told people of the abuse, neglect and filthy conditions that the individuals at Pennhurst were exposed to. Every image that was shared was difficult for viewers to accept. Pictures showed adults that were tied down to beds, some mentally ill, some visibly able to function on their own. At this time the hospital had 2,791 individuals making up the campus, and a good chunk of those were children. This population was nearly 1000 more people than the campus was made to hold, making it impossible to accommodate all of the people.
While the intentions to start this school and hospital were great, it was obvious that the facility was no longer able to provide the care that these patients needed. The campus that held over 2,000 patients was managed by 9 medical doctors, 11 teachers, and a budget that was millions of dollars short of what they needed to really provide high-quality care, needless to say, they were in a bind. In 1977, Pennhurst was closed because of its conditions. It became one of the biggest embarrassments of Pennsylvania and was the leading case that changed the ways of mental disabilities and administered care.
Fast forward to today. The buildings are still standing and while their beautiful architecture hasn’t changed, the feeling that they give off upon immediate arrival is eerier than it is impressive. The Department of Military Affairs gained ownership of the campus and used it as a home for veterans. In this time some buildings also became nursing facilities and provided plenty of places for those who served and were in need of a place, somewhere to go.
In 2001, the state took over the responsibility of the buildings because it was now a historic building. They were able to do that up until the property was purchased by a private buyer for two million dollars. The justice earned for the price that patients at this hospital paid is one of the reasons that it is such an important building in regards to history, but the haunted souls that linger here are one of the reasons that people still come to visit and experience Pennhurst Asylum for all that it’s worth.
Most places that are exposed to human suffrage, death, violence, torture and pain, are the places that will experience hauntings. This place is no different. In fact, it is so incredibly haunted that it has become one of the must-go places for those of us that are as passionate about paranormal interactions as our team is.
There have been so many accounts of paranormal activity, including pictures, recordings, videos and in person encounters of spirits throughout the building. People have heard the voices of people throughout the halls of this building, heard footsteps immediately behind them, and have considered the warnings whispered. “Go away”, “I’ll kill you”, “Why’d you come here?” and more have all been heard by those that are daring enough to visit the campus. Each building has its fair share of tales that keep us interested and wanting to learn more. Some of the ones that have peaked our interest are the following stories.
The quaker building is full of shadows that trail the walls. Stories have mentioned the shadows of a small girl with long black hair hunched over a presence with long dangling arms. There are doors, rocking chairs and random objects that move in this area without anyone being near them, as well. In regards to some of the more intense stories that have happened, there was a paranormal investigator that was shoved on a stairway, and a visible, red mark was left on his back after the fact. Though intense, it isn’t the only violent act that’s happened in this room. Multiple objects like crowbars and brass fixtures and more have been projected at investigators while there. Mediums have sensed the presence of a demonic or tortured soul that continues to call this space it’s home.
This building has also had plenty of recordings noted for paranormal activity. EVPs have recordings of many voices and sounds throughout the building. When the sounds were first heard, a team of investigators surrounded the building and had a group enter via a tunnel system. When they were finally in the building, there was no one there, and sounds continued to be made.
There were so many buildings on the campus, and each one offers a different paranormal activity that you can experience. If you’re daring enough, then it’s time that you check out the schedule of tours that we have planned. We will take you through some of the rooms where torturous treatments were used, the morgue, and the hallways that never seem to end.