Pennsylvania: Pennhurst

Located in Spring City, Pennsylvania, you would never know what was lurking beneath the overgrown brush right in the backyard of a veteran’s retirement home. Built in 1908, Pennhurst opened their gates to offer help to both children and adults who suffered from some type of mental illness. The building itself boasted an impressive 15+ buildings on about 1,400 acres. This included not just medical facilities, but also schools dedicated to help teach the patients/students. However, the hospital had issues since day one, including overcrowding and abuse.

In 1968 a reporter, Bill Baldini, gave the world an inside look into the hospital in his TV series “Suffer the Little Children”. It was a five part investigation where Baldini interviewed patients, staff, and also took a look into the conditions the patients were forced to deal with on a daily basis. At the time this aired, the hospital was home to over 2,500 patients, which also caused alarm for being overcrowded. One of the patients was asked “If you could have just one wish, what would it be? “And his reply - “To get out of Pennhurst”.

Ten years later, a lawsuit was filed against the school for the treatment of its patients and students, eventually causing the school to shut its doors due to lack of funds in the late 80‘s. The patients had been transferred elsewhere (yet, it is said that some of the patients refused to leave, and came back after the building had been abandoned).

Today, the magnificent structures still stand, with remnants of the past behind every door. Aside from the filthy graffiti sprayed over the walls, you can’t help but notice the history all around. From beds to wheelchairs, or children’s toys to clothing. It looks as though everyone in the building was forced to pick up and leave, leaving everything behind. And time has definitely taken its toll on the buildings.

-PaperSouls :October 2007