History of the Asylum
The Pennhurst State School and Hospital was an institution for mentally and physically disabled people. In 1908, it opened its doors to support those with special help and attention. However, overcrowding, mistreatment, and neglect soon spread.
For decades, Pennhurst Asylum kept its population hidden from public view. Countless people, from children to adults, suffered. This place once known as “the shame of Pennsylvania”
If it wasn’t for a news reporter who documented the state hospital during the 1960s, we wouldn’t know the kind of maltreatment that a went on. Because of this footage, in 1987 the state school was closed for good.
What now remains are abandoned buildings with crumbling structures. Certain buildings are closed to the public because of their state of disrepair.
Day and night tours are now offered to those curious enough to catch a glimpse. I’ll leave a link here to the website so you can check it out yourself.
From daytime tours to Halloween attractions and paranormal investigations, there’s something for everyone!
But, I’d recommend the overnight paranormal investigation tour. If you’re brave enough to do it, it gives a totally different vibe and perspective. Just seeing those abandoned buildings, completely dark and run down, gives you the creeps.
Overnight Paranormal Investigation
The overnight investigation lasts from 7pm to 3am. It’s quite long so be sure you’re not tired, have food, and comfy shoes for walking. The tour will take you into these buildings: Mayflower, Devon, the Philadelphia buildings, and the gunner underneath the Quaker building (the upper levels are not in good conditions).
You have to arrive by 6:30pm so be sure to give yourself time to get there. The road to the asylum is very dark, narrow, and curvy. It’s very difficult to navigate at night. Even the staff said they were glad they knew how to get here because driving in the dark is horrible.
The way my GPS took me led to a dead end. At one point, the road it took me down used to be the entrance to the asylum but has since been closed.
You want to take the long way around to get to the main entrance. You’ll go around this campus looking place on Brown Rd, I believe. Once you’ve passed the campus looking place, you’ll see signs that point you in the right direction to the asylum.
Once you arrive, you wait to sign in but you can walk around the first floor of the main building. They have information on the history of the asylum you can read while you wait. There’s also items and things you can look at that have been there for decades.
When you sign in, they go over the rules of the investigation. Then, they walk you to a building or two and discuss the history of the asylum. When they do this, it’s pitch black outside and you can’t see anything.
It gives an extra creepy feel being out in the middle of nowhere, in complete darkness, being informed about the history of the asylum. You feel completely helpless and scared. All the while feeling sad and horrible about what had happened on the premises.
Once that’s complete, they take you back to the main building and split you into groups. You go with your group to your assigned team leaders into different buildings. Each group is allotted about 40 minutes to an hour in each building. Once everyone has had a chance to be in each building, you can roam freely (or with your group if you choose) after 1am.
One of the coolest things about this investigation was the paranormal equipment. You could bring your own (if you have them) or borrow the ones from the asylum managers. However, you have to give them your car keys or something as collateral so they ensure the equipment is returned. You can rent a spirit box, REM box, and a EMF reader. My friend and I rented the spirit box.
My Experience With The Paranormal Investigation
It was a fun experience being in run down buildings, in the darkness, trying to catch something. To add to the atmosphere, the team leaders would tell the group their personal paranormal experiences. My friend and I enjoyed going from one building to the next, exploring each crevice, trying to see if there was anything paranormal out there. My friend and I stayed until 1am because we were both tired.
On the flip side, I did have a con from this experience. The first being the group itself. Certain activities can be done in a group, this can be one of them. However, the group I was part of had this annoying teenage girl and relatives who were constantly overpowering the team leaders and disrupting silent investigation efforts.
I understand how certain people may be “sensitive” to such things. But the frequency and intensity that trio had was quite unbearable at times. This made my overall experience a little less positive. You never know who you’re going to get in a group so it depends on the people to make the whole group experience good.
Other than that, I truly enjoyed it! It was great meeting new people, learning how others (most but not all) share the same passion for the paranormal, and how we got to be investigators with our equipment.