By Larissa Chelius - Photo Shoot at Pennhurst Asylum for Issue 1 of iTi STYLE
Pennhurst Asylum. Originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic was an institution for mentally and physically disabled people. Out deep in the woods where nobody can see is one of the scariest abandon lots ever known. Walking in all you can see are crumbling buildings all around and a grassy courtyard with a rusty old decrepit swing set in the middle. With only two buildings safe to walk in, there are still many horrific sights and stories. While exploring, there are some untouched buildings. You could see how repelling it must have been for the 10,000 patients that were housed all over the property. The ceilings were caving in, windows were shattered, it’s not hard to believe that it had been abandon for 25 years.
Going back to the historical facts of Pennhurst Asylum, the doctors didn’t treat the patients as they should have. For example, some of the more aggressive patients had to get all of their teeth pulled, due to how they would bite the doctors taking out chunks of their flesh. Going along with that, the disrespect towards the patients was what started the closing of the asylum. The story goes that a doctor wanted to punish an aggressive patient that was physically hurting another patient. He asked what medication could be given to the patient causing said patient the most pain, but does not kill him. Some of the patients that were kept at Pennhurst had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, epilepsy, learning disabilities, or they were mute, deaf, or blind.
Moving on, deep down under all of the buildings is a narrow and icy tunnel system which consisted of some piping for the buildings above. Walking inside of the Mayflower (one of the refurbished buildings) was an entirely different story. The first sight was of a long hallway that was covered with graffiti. Heading upstairs there was another hallway which had a room full of rubber furniture. This is where all of the most aggressive patients were kept. There were small living quarters for each of them in the general area. The patients had to fit at least four people per room, due to the lack of space. In this general area there was rubber furniture, rusty lockers, and one table. Along with that room, down the hall were rooms for many other patients.
On the third floor was where most of the bigger rooms were. Along with those rooms, there was a bathroom, and a room where files and X-rays were looked at. Some of the bigger rooms even had cushioned seats with closets and chipping paint. In one of the rooms was an original toy that was found in the building. The people that stayed in these rooms most likely liked the fact that they were close to the bathroom. Although, from what we saw the bathrooms were not the most luxurious. The toilets had no doors, but the showers gave you a little bit of privacy. The most horrific part of the bathroom was the bath its self. Walking up to it I felt a crushing feeling across my chest. Going down the steps I felt a release of pressure and when I felt a breeze of fresh air I felt completely normal. Overall, I fell that Pennhurst will stay one of the most interesting experiences I ever had.