Pennhurst’s story echoes that of many of the asylums and institutions. Built-in 1908 with high hopes and a sprawling campus that had everything a community could need – including a barbershop, a greenhouse, a fire station, a movie theater, and a general store – Pennhurst rapidly devolved into a site synonymous with well-documented overcrowding and neglect that caused the adults and children who resided there to regress further and further from functionality.
Ultimately it was closed in 1987 amid a storm of charges of physical and sexual abuse, improper restraint and seclusion, corruption, mismanagement, and neglect.
Opened in 1908 as the Eastern Pennsylvania Institution for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, but better known by its popular name, Pennhurst was part of a national trend to segregate individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (then referred to as “defective”, “degenerate” and “unfit”) from mainstream society
Over eight decades more than 10,500 individuals resided at the 1400-acre facility outside of Spring City in rural Chester County; at its peak more than 3,500 people were in custodial care at Pennhurst.
In 2010 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (joined by the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia) dedicated a historical marker to Pennhurst’s enduring legacy in Pennsylvania and American history.
In October 2010 “Pennhurst Haunted Asylum” opens its doors to the shock and dismay of many – especially those in the disabled community – Pennhurst owners worked with Randy Bates of The Bates Motel Halloween attraction to turn Pennhurst’s historic lower campus into a commercial Halloween “haunted” attraction.
The stunning photos of Abandoned Pennhurst State School and Hospital were taken by Jeff Tripodi. Jeff Tripodi is a professional photographer, who shares his stories with followers.