Shrouded in mystery and controversy for decades, Pennhurst State School and Hospital was an infamous institution for the mentally and physically disabled. The compound operated for nearly 80 years, with 10,600 patients passing through its doors, before an avalanche of abuse allegations brought about its closure. Today, the sprawling site sits abandoned, except for the many reported paranormal forces there. Various eyewitnesses have experienced an array of strange activity including sounds of screaming and numerous apparitions.
Opened in 1908, Pennhurst was a self-sufficient community, shut off from the outside world, with over 20 dormitories covering 1,400 acres. Even the property's electricity was generated by an on-site power plant. Throughout its existence, the facility was often accused of dehumanization and abuse. Patients were routinely drugged and restrained for no reason. One reported incident involved patients having all of their teeth removed if they were accused of biting another person. At least 100 people are reported to have died on the property, but many believe the actual number is much higher.
The site's negative public image arguably culminated in a 1968 report by NBC News titled Suffer the Little Children, which portrayed the site as ill-managed, severely understaffed and patients as "rotting in their cages". Further abuse allegations led to the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States, which resulted in a ruling that conditions at Pennhurst were inhumane and dangerous. The hospital was forcibly closed in 1986 and all but abandoned ever since.
Those who have access to the land have experienced an alarming array of paranormal activity throughout a number of buildings, as well as the massive underground tunnel system. These passageways were used to transport patients between buildings, but it is also believed some patients were restrained and kept here for lengthy amounts of time. In these tunnels, witnesses have reported seeing the glowing apparition of a young girl. One witness recently reported seeing an apparition reaching out to her as though looking for help, before fading back into the darkness.
In the Mayflower building, staff members have heard a woman screaming as if she is being tortured. On several occasions, a woman's voice has also been heard screaming "help me." Also in this structure, an employee working alone felt a hand on their back, as if someone invisible was pushing them out of the building. Mayflower is also known for doors inexplicably slamming shut, frequent violent banging noises, and the sounds of heavy footsteps. Many feel these are residual cries from souls whose torture didn't end in life.
In the Quaker building, one of the oldest buildings on the site, a visitor was brutally pushed down a flight of stairs. When he was assisted back to his feet by staff members, the visitor had an unexplained red mark on his back, as if he had been struck. The property's security team has witnessed various strange sounds and vague apparitions on numerous occasions in Quaker.
Throughout other buildings on the Pennhurst grounds, witnesses have seen apparitions peaking around corners and looking out of windows. Staff members working alone have felt someone whispering in their ear and heard loud dragging sounds.
Staff members and visitors believe the spirits of severely mistreated patients remain trapped on the grounds of Pennhurst. TAPS will investigate the paranormal sights, sounds and touches of this notorious institution to uncover what other dark secrets may be still buried here.