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Urban Legends- Pennhurst State School and Hospital

(Featured image Credit to Frank Giammatteo)

pennhurst hospital and school playwithdeathTake a psychiatric hospital opened in 1903, add decades of patient mistreatment and death, and you have the perfect formula for one of the most active paranormal locations in southeastern Pennsylvania. As a child, I grew up in the last house adjacent to the Pennhurst grounds, after we moved and I reached the teenage years, my mother made me promise to not drive back into the grounds, though she would never explain why. Of course, this didn’t stop us from making our midnight trips to the abandoned buildings and forests surrounding them.

The property spans 120 acres of grounds and multiple buildings. You can find old pictures and advertisements online portraying the hospital as an idyllic location for psychological and mental treatment. You can also find official documentation from inside the hospital, detailing years of abuse and law breaking. A documentary aired on NBC in 1968 entitled Suffer the Children, showcasing the harsh conditions. The hospital had a room of cribs with children nearing age five and unable to walk because they did not have enough staff to get time on the floor. They had large open areas where patients with various disorders would gather and interact for hours without structure or interaction. They had tunnels under the grounds to transport the most severely handicapped and disturbed individuals.

Paranormal Activity at Pennhurst – Decades of Death and Abuse

Pennhurst has appeared on more than one television show, the most recent being Ghost Adventures, with repeated instances of disembodied voices, sounds, and even an object striking the host as he walked through a doorway. Talk to anyone who grew up in the area and you will find similar stories. My father-in-law was a property manager for years after the Department of Veteran Affairs purchased the land and buildings. He has many stories of being called for lights on in the buildings that did not have electricity, movement and sounds, that feeling that you are not alone no matter what the reality of the situation.

pennhurst asylum playwithdeathPennhurst is a dark place, one with years of suffering. My grandmother lived in the town next to Pennhurst all her life. She told me that unwanted babies would be dropped at the gates of the hospital and raised with the residents. Can you imagine the results? Innocent children housed with psychologically damaged residents, even the criminally insane. Even today you can drive the streets in this town and see former patients walking around as the homeless and struggling, in and out of group homes, lost without the walls that kept them inside and the abuse suffered for years.

Abandoned Babies Raised With Criminally Insane Inmates at Pennhurst

Today Pennhurst is a haunted attraction that opens every Halloween season. The brave can pay to tour the buildings and experience a theatrical haunting inside a real one. Make sure you go in with respect though as you will surely not be alone. If you decide to visit any other night, white security vehicles will follow you and take down your information. If you sneak in, beware, as the spirits still wait to tell their stories and make right decades of wrong and degradation.

Here are some links to relevant information on Pennhurst:

Pennhurst Asylum Haunted Attraction (there are photos, videos, and history on this site. You can purchase tickets if you are interested in visiting during the Halloween season):

 Youtube video of the Suffer the Little Children documentary (not an easy thing to watch if you are a sensitive soul. It does illuminate the issues behind the walls of Pennhurst and some of the conditions that created the overwhelming paranormal activity):

 El Peecho’s Pennhurst info (here is a great site for authentic documents coming from inside the walls of Pennhurst. You can read accounts of the everyday life of a resident including incident reports and propaganda produced by the hospital administration)::

 Ghost Adventures Episode at Pennhurst (you can also find this on Netflix and other streaming video services. They do a good job of going over the history and experience some quality paranormal activity):

 Weird NJ Entry on Pennhurst (a very detailed article on Pennhurst with photos and specific instances of paranormal activity)::

 Final Thought:

You can read through these resources and watch the videos to form your own opinion about the stories surrounding Pennhurst. I believe bad experiences can leave behind residual energies. A place this large, opened for this long, is bound to create some rifts in the universe. The horrible lives of the residents illustrated the misconceptions surrounding the treatment of the mentally ill that plagued this country for years. The ghosts of Pennhurst will certainly continue to be heard even as the years progress and more curious souls arrive to investigate the grounds and discover the secrets that lie within.

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Published on: September 6, 2013

Filled Under: Scary Urban Legends

Views: 12341


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