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Thursday, February 16, 2012


A nurse who gives invisible shots, a girl who likes to dart into corners and a man who still sits in the common room are just three of the spirits haunting the Pennhurst Asylum in Spring City, Pennsylvania. How do I know that? I have spent the past 2011 Halloween season working in the Mayflower building, 2nd floor and have witnessed the paranormal activity first hand.

Twenty-five years ago, Pennhurst State School and Mental Hospital was closed down due to patient abuse. Today Pennhurst has been turned into a controversial Halloween attraction. I took a job as an orderly working in the Mayflower building, one of the most spiritually active of all the buildings.
People are fascinated with Pennhurst and want to know more of its past and its present. Intrigued, I decided to do my own research. As a child, I had visited a couple of times with my mother and I also had an uncle that once worked there.

People want to know if Mayflower is really haunted. Because of this question, I began a diary of my experiences working in the Mayflower building.

Here is the first chapter…

             “Mommy,” a child cried out.

              Frozen, I blinked beneath the glaring light. A child? Why would a child be in the Mayflower building at the Pennhurst Haunt? The sound had come from the third floor. Slowly, I walked to the foot of the third floor staircase and shined my flashlight up the stairwell. Nothing. Just creepy blackness and the feeling something was watching me. My light fell on the ceiling above. Water dripped in the corner, where the exposed ceiling dipped. Paint chips hung precariously from the ceiling. My beam trailed over the window at the top. I wondered how many people had looked out that same window? Walked that same staircase?

             I moved back into position at the top of the second floor stairs. I stood quietly. I know what I heard. Could it have been another worker in the building? A customer coming up from the first floor with a small child in tow? I waited. Minutes ticked away. When the next group of people arrived, there aren’t any kids with them. And there weren’t any children for the remainder of that night. My thoughts flew over possibilities. But ghost echoed in my mind.

              It was the first night of the Pennhurst Asylum, located in Spring City, Pennsylvania. The old Pennhurst State School had closed its door in 1986 due to allegations of abuse. It had been turned into a Halloween attraction. The building had been left to rot away. Ceilings leaked, plumbing was missing and ceilings and walls were graffiti and chipped. This was its second year. It was raining outside in an endless torrent. It began raining inside parts of the building. Dripping became my companion as I waited for ghost hunters to come up to the second floor. Because of the rotten weather, customers were few and far between.

              I was an orderly in the 2011 Mayflower Building, new this year. My uniform is all white. White pants, white collared shirt, white shoes. I also wear a black bowtie and belt. I decided to wear my hair in a head band to give me a more orderly affect.

             Customers are given flashlight and were able to explore the first and second floors of the building, looking for real ghosts. The Mayflower was said to be really haunted. We were warned before we even started working that we would be messed with by something living in the Mayflower. Do I believe in ghosts? To a degree I do. Perhaps Pennhurst would make me a believer.

              My job was to guard the third floor stairwell from patrons who want to explore the rooms above me. The third floor was closed off for the season. Earlier in the night, I toured the third floor with three other employees. Darkness pressed against me. It was so creepy. I felt like at any moment something would reach out and touch me. Trailing the group, the beams from our flashlights created large shadows. Doorways were ominous, leading into forbidden rooms. I would shine my light behind me, trying to ward off the darkness. When the group rounded the staircase to start their descent, I saw a glimpse of a dark shadow cross in front of me. If I would have blinked, I would have missed it. Stunned, I hurried down the staircase, not sure what I had seen. But others had seen it too. In fact, a lot of people I meet over the next few weeks will talk of the dark shadows and of children, nurses. But I pass it off to maybe it was a shadow created by their flashlights as they passed through the doorway. I’m not ready to believe in any other possibility. I’m here to work. To learn.