The History of Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Over one hundred years ago, government officials, doctors, and psychiatrists determined that the physically and mentally disabled, those with epilepsy, blindness and other deformities should be housed in an institution.  The 1903 Pennsylvania Legislature authorized the Pennhurst State School and Hospital and it opened in Spring City, PA in 1908.

EVP Evidence from Pennhurst Asylum

To help the residents, many volunteers from the surrounding areas assisted the employees and teachers. Hill School students from a local high school created a “one on one” program which allowed students to become involved at the Pennhurst State School and Hospital.  One student would spend time with one resident whether it was reading books, going for a walk, helping with meals or even in some cases, taking a resident out for a day.  

Photos from Pennhurst Asylum Nick Groff Tour Event

Unfortunately, many residents were drugged to control behavior, held in seclusion with restraints for days on end, tortured, abused and neglected.  Shock therapy was practiced as a form of treatment.

By 1912 it was overcrowded. Society added to the overcrowding by sending immigrants, orphans and even criminals to Pennhurst with nowhere else to go. Problems developed between male and female residents and lack of funding, employees, medical workers and teachers created a difficult environment.

Over the years the property grew to 1,400 acres with its own power plant. Pennhurst became a self-sufficient village with farming, gardening, a bakery, laundry facilities, and industrial trades and domestic workers.  Underground tunnels connected the buildings at Pennhurst along with tree and greenery lined sidewalks overhead.  But inside the brick walls of some of the buildings, the residents’ level of abuse and torture continued.  For some, the morgue on the property was the final stop before being buried in the Pennhurst Cemetery.

Pennhurst Asylum Investigative Footage with EVPS

While many residents were dehumanized and made to feel worthless, somehow their spirits were strong and they retained their humanity and proved that their lives were of value when the doors were forced to close in 1987. Courts had ruled that patients’ constitutional rights had been violated.

Pennhurst Interviews

The spirits of the dead roam the hallways and building rooms. Visitors at the Pennhurst Asylum have been scratched, punched and choked.  Visitors feel the presence of the tormented spirits.  The ghosts of Pennhurst are everywhere. Ghost hunters are rarely disappointed when visiting Pennhurst.  What will you find when you visit?