(Pennhurst State School Spring City, Pennsylvania)
Pennhurst State School, a live-in facility for people with mental and physical disabilities, was surrounded by controversy from its earliest days. In 1908, the state of Pennsylvania built the school as an asylum for patients with special needs. This complex, first known as the State Institution for Epileptics and Feeble Minded, was filled with adults and children with varying disabilities.
Over 10,000 patients crossed through the doors into Pennhurst. Overwhelmed parents dropped off their children who were mentally handicapped or autistic. Sadly, many of these children were abandoned to become wards of the state. While some patients could care for themselves, many more suffered from severe disabilities. Those patients who couldn't care for themselves became the school's most vulnerable victims.
Many patients spent their days and nights trapped in metal cribs in horrid conditions. Others were so desperate for human contact that they went to great lengths for attention by injuring themselves or even smearing themselves with their own feces in hopes of a bath. Overworked staff responded to unruly patients by drugging them into submission or chaining them to their beds. Other residents were isolated for such long periods of time that they regressed and lost their will to speak, fight or even to live. One particularly harsh rule chastised patients for biting. When a patient bit someone the first time, he or she was reprimanded. But if it happened again, the patient was sent to a dentist who would pull all of his teeth. 1000s of teeth were removed in a rusty dentist chair that still sits in the tunnels beneath the Pennhurst complex.
The facility closed its doors in 1987. Tday caretakers of the property believe that the buildings and underground tunnels are haunted by the angry spirits of patients who suffered and died here. Reports of slamming doors, footsteps and sounds of vomiting coming from otherwise empty rooms. Some witnesses have seen the spirit of a little girl roaming the buildings.
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