Pennhurst State School – The Shame of Pennsylvania

Pennhurst State School – The Shame of Pennsylvania


Welcome to the spine-chilling world of Pennhurst State School and its ghost stories. Originally named Eastern Pennsylvania state institution for the feeble-minded and epileptic, the institution was constructed between 1903 to 1908 and was a state-run organization for the mentally and physically disabled. But behind the walls of the 30 buildings spread across 1400 acres, lurked torturous conditions and patient abuse. This notorious institution was required to house no less than 500 inmates or patients, with room for more. The self-sufficient community was cut off from the outside world, housing over 10,500 patients over almost 80 years. Overcrowding was a huge issue and by the 1960s, the institution housed 2,791 people, 900 over capacity, including deaf, blind, mute, mentally disabled patients and eventually criminals and orphans. Pennhurst State School became known as the “shame of Pennsylvania” and was closed in 1987 after 79 years of controversy. Join us as we delve deeper into the unimaginable atrocities that took place within these walls and the ghostly encounters reported since its closure.

The notoriously haunted Pennhurst State School known as the “Shame of Pennsylvania”


Pennhurst State School is one of the most haunted places in the world. It is notoriously known for the terrible abuse and mistreatment that occurred here. Patients were often chained to adult-size cribs in seclusion rooms when staff were overwhelmed. In some cases staff would even remove the teeth of patients who bit others, and visitors have been known to find teeth in the tunnels. The news report by Bill Baldini titled “Suffer the Little Children” showed everyone what happened in 1968. Decades of lawsuits ultimately led to the closure of Pennhurst in 1987, but the awful stories of Dr. Fear and the punishment of patients remain. The mistreatment of patients is a terribly dark stain on the history of the facility. The tunnels connecting the buildings are notorious for unexplainable activity and strange occurrences. Paranormal experiences include; hearing doors slam, disembodied footsteps or voices, sounds of vomiting and children crying. There have also been reports of poltergeist activity and sightings of full bodied apparitions.

An eerie, abandoned corridor within Pennhurst State School.

The Devon building is the largest on the campus, stretching 100,000 square feet and five floors. It was formerly a dormitory for male patients, and is known for its haunting growls and screams. It is a very active area where people often report feeling a sense of malevolence. This building would have held the most amount of people of any area on the campus.

The Devon building on Pennhurst campus suffered from terrible overcrowding.

People don’t like entering the school rooms, known for being extremely active. These classrooms feel confined and stretch along both sides of the hallways. There is even a summoning circle made with ash in one of the rooms where people have held summoning ceremonies. There is said to be residual energy and poltergeist activity within the school rooms.

An ominous slide outside the walls of Pennhurst State School acting as a reminder of the children that once resided within these walls.

The Mayflower building is said to be the most active on campus, If you scream, no one can hear you here. The basement has an aggressive, malevolent spirit named King in the boiler room. He was the maintenance man on the property and is known for his violent behaviour. People have reported hearing EVPs interacting with King, saying “I will kill you.” He can be aggressive and has been known to pull women’s hair and push or scratch the biggest person in the group. Sometimes people smell smoke and see objects move in the blackness of rooms.

Mayflower building
The Mayflower building of Pennhurst State School known to house an aggressive, malevolent spirit named King.

Emily’s room is another popular spot for visitors. The spirit of a former patient is said to be playful with visitors, sightings of a little girl in this room are common. There are recordings of her saying “I love you,” and people often feel comforted by her presence. This room has a very different feel to other more malevolent areas of Pennhurst.

The third floor has a lot of paranormal activity, occasionally males that enter this area report experiencing some type of physical encounter, such as feeling sick or being pushed down stairs. A violent entity has been sighted here, described as a 6’3″ apparition of a man who lunges at people and can make them levitate. He is even said to have grabbed at someone’s neck.

A glimpse inside the Pennhurst State School

Finally, there is the Rockwell Tunnel, only recently opened, visitors have heard screams, moans, and crying from within this tunnel. There is an entity, known as Skippy who is highly aggressive and despises women in there. Reports of being bitten, having hair pulled out, and scratches have come from here.


Pennhurst State School is an extremely creepy location with an incredibly sad, dark and disturbing history. The paranormal activity that lingers within the walls of its buildings make it a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the supernatural. While the stories of hauntings at Pennhurst are chilling, they also provide a unique insight into the lives and experiences of those who once lived there. If planning to visit this historic site, be sure to plan ahead, show respect to the property, and prepare yourself for a truly spine-tingling experience. Pennhurst offers daytime, museum and photography tours You can also experience Pennhurst in darkness by booking an overnight paranormal tour. Whether you’re a seasoned ghost hunter or simply looking for a unique adventure, Pennhurst State School is an unforgettable destination that will leave you feeling both haunted and fascinated.

If you enjoyed learning about the ghosts of Pennhurst State School you may also be interested in reading about the hauntings at The Farrar elementary School located in Iowa, USA.

Thanks for reading!




About Amy

Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

Check out Amy's other work over at Amy's Crypt.

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