Ghost Adventures – Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Ghost Adventures kicked off the new season with a visit to a place that seems particularly disturbing.

Pennhurst was a hospital for the physically and mentally disabled. It opened in the early 1900s and over the course of its history degraded to the point where patients were abused, neglected and even killed. The rumors of violence start early, right when the place opened, and continued up until it closed in 1986. So many reports came to light that eventually news stories were aired and former patients sued the institution for violating their rights.

After a 32-day trial and an immense investigation, prosecutors concluded that the conditions at Pennhurst were not only dangerous, with physical and mental abuse of its patients, but also inadequate for the care and habilitation for the mentally retarded. The State of Pennsylvania also concluded that the physical, mental, and intellectual skills of most patients had deteriorated while in Pennhurst.

Obviously this place has a troubling past, but does it have strong paranormal elements? Former employees certainly think so, with lots of reports of noises, bangs, people looking out the window, figures and footsteps.

Almost half the episode is taken up with documenting the site and quite frankly I was a little disappointed when they started the investigation. The narrative is fascinating albeit shocking.

The investigation came across as a little tame this time around. Considering how large the place actually is versus the evidence they found, it feels like they either didn’t get to go everywhere or there just wasn’t that much activity. Zak and team say they hear a few voices and footsteps, but as always I find it hard to hear them. Is it me or does it always sound like there is just as much static as anything else?

I wish they would have broken this up into a two part episode. I would really have enjoyed more on the history on this location and a much longer investigation. The place is so large and there are so many tunnels it seems they just barely scratched the surface.

Pennhurst State School on the Travel Channel
Pennhurst on Wikipedia

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4 Responses to Ghost Adventures – Pennhurst State School and Hospital

  • Sara says:

    I was extremely disappointed in the episode. In fact, the boys in the show got all their facts wrong: Lemnitzer was a state school for the mentally disabled children in the past. I won’t deny there may have been abuse there (then again, in that time it wasn’t seen as abuse or torture but rather treatment…) I’ve had three generations of family who worked there as nurses and aides, but not ONE said they’re EVER heard of the punishment of pulling out teeth if the children bit too many times. My family has not eve heard of the ‘doctor’ on the show, and what’s more, the court issue was basically a rich family who dropped their son off there, and their son was dangerous and the care was not ‘up to par’ the level of care there was poor due to the fact that the state did not fund the school enough to provide for the overcrowd population. But what I think was the atrocity that occurred at this place was not the abuse, but the parents who dropped off their babies there- not because they were exceptional children, but because they did not want them. And what’s worse is the whole fact that after the school and hospital was shut down, the residents where puts under the care of the families- who did not even know the first thing on how to care for them. They still wander up and down the streets of spring city… Now that, to me, is sad.

  • Sara says:

    I was extremely disappointed in the episode. In fact, the boys in the show got all their facts wrong: Pennhurst was a state school for the mentally disabled children in the past. I won’t deny there may have been abuse there (then again, in that time it wasn’t seen as abuse or torture but rather treatment…) I’ve had three generations of family who worked there as nurses and aides, but not ONE said they’re EVER heard of the punishment of pulling out teeth if the children bit too many times. My family has not eve heard of the ‘doctor’ on the show, and what’s more, the court issue was basically a rich family who dropped their son off there, and their son was dangerous and the care was not ‘up to par’ the level of care there was poor due to the fact that the state did not fund the school enough to provide for the overcrowd population. But what I think was the atrocity that occurred at this place was not the abuse, but the parents who dropped off their babies there- not because they were exceptional children, but because they did not want them. And what’s worse is the whole fact that after the school and hospital was shut down, the residents were put under the care of the families- who did not even know the first thing on how to care for them. They still wander up and down the streets of spring city… Now that, to me, is sad.

  • Megan says:

    @Sara: Just so you know how the investigation part of it works they dont just make crap up they get the information from files from the places or people who have worked at the place or people who were there in the time of running it. They dont just start a show and say well we “heard this about this place so lets go”. Tara the general manager for Ghost Adventures takes the time out to research each and every place they go to. Ever think maybe there were two schools and that Pennhurst was one of them? I dont know much about this place havent investigated it so I dont know the back story but lets just say they dont go into an investigation with a bunch of rumors.

  • RottenOne says:

    Wow Megan, you are just full of piss and vinegar and have a complete lack of understanding as to what the period (“.”) is used for in modern English. Yes, the Ghost Adventures team does their research – that is usually left to Jeff Belanger – as we see in the credits. And yes, they do go there based on rumors, and legends and stories and anything else that makes the place worthy of their investigation. They even take the evidence of other investigators. They take in lots of information before they set out to a place.

    For someone who knows nothing about the place you certainly have a lot of facts to spout. I agree with Sara, when it comes to place like this it’s really hard to separate the fact from the fiction. What we think of torture today was seen as standard medicine decades ago. Electroshock therapy was normal. Cold baths and all sorts of “radical” treatments were the norm for mental illness since they had a very limited understanding of it by today’s standards. Mental illness was a shameful thing and most people had no idea how to deal with it. I would say even discussing the subject was embarrassing to most people. Based on that I think you would have to read between the lines when dealing with this sort of subject matter.

    When it comes to places like this you can’t believe everything you see and read. Records get lost, stories get handed down, events get misinterpreted. There is evidence to support that ill deeds were done to the patients (by today’s yardstick) but taking every story as the gospel would be completely irresponsible. Nobody would ever exaggerate something just so they could get their 15 minutes of fame on a television show would they?

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