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Monday, October 10, 2016



Originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, or more commonly known - Pennhurst - is still an icon today.

 Opening in 1908, the institute was originally created to separate physically and handicapped individuals, mostly children, from “normal” society.  This included epileptics and orphans. Parents were encouraged to place their children into the state’s hands. And so they did, thinking their child would have a better life, perhaps even be cured. Pennhurst housed, schooled and taught its residents a vocation or trade - or for at least those who were thought capable. But if your condition was dire, you were mostly ignored and confined to your bed. Limited funding, overcrowded conditions and lack of staff took its toll on Pennhurst residents. It took a bold news reporter (1968's SUFFER THE CHILDREN) and a prying eye to shed a spotlight on Pennhurst’s plight. Lawsuits followed. Changes. In 1986-1987 Pennhurst State School and Hospital was closed.

With its own haunted past, Pennhurst Asylum doesn’t need much enhancement this 2016 Halloween season. The huge desolate buildings and eerie roadways leading into the complex set the stage. The bleak, tree-lined landscape appears shadowy and dismal. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Pennhurst is the underground tunnels, which connects most of the buildings. Curiosity and dread accompany new visitors. Fear and excitement. And so it begins.

Boasting four main attractions, Pennhurst Asylum is worth the visit for those seeking a scare. Pennhurst Asylum prides itself on its great staff and visual enterprise. Customers drive from all over to tour this fascinating haunt. And most leave a bit spooked and pleased by their visit.

But if you’re seeking a less intimidating scare, check out Ghost Hunt in the Mayflower Hall Building. This once-upon-a-time male dormitory is mostly intact and still holds its historical significance. Guests can tour the first and second floors in a dimly lit setting. Mayflower is truly haunted. Perhaps you will discover that for yourself. But if ghosts don’t strike your fancy, added to this attraction is a museum, complete with artifacts from Pennhurst’s former reign.

The best part of the haunt – bringing renewed interest in Pennhurst – be it good or bad.
Pennhurst Asylum is located in Spring City Pa. Pennhurst will be opened Thursday through Sunday until October 30, 2016.

Tamera Lawrence: (
Author of Ghosts of Mayflower & Pennhurst Ghosts of Mayflower II