Upon processing my images from Pennhurst State School & Hospital I realized that many of them feature the random chairs that were left behind. For me they represent evidence of human existence. I was drawn to the windows, draped with dingy curtains … at one time allowing just a glimpse of the world outside these walls. As I walked among the remains I thought about all the secrets from the past that are buried here and the spirits that surely linger. While processing the images I relied on my visual memory to stay true to the dark lighting and haunting feeling about the place.
Pennhurst was known as Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic when it opened in 1908. When admitted, patients were grouped into mental categories of imbecile or insane, and into physical categories of epileptic or healthy. Within three years of opening, Pennhurst was over-crowded, and at one time housed more than 2,700 patients as well as wards of the state … the majority children. Relatives were discouraged from visiting explaining that it would be ‘better for the patient’. In 1968, conditions at Pennhurst were exposed in a five-part television news report anchored by CBS reporter, Bill Baldini and titled, Suffer the Little Children. In 1983, nine employees were indicted on charges of abuse followed by the Halderman Case which detailed further, widespread abuse resulting in closing the institution in 1986.
Filed under: Abandoned, Photography | 36 Comments
Tags: abandoned, asylum, chairs, haunted, hospital, PA, pennhurst, Pennsylvania