Thursday, November 15, 2012

History of frontal lobotomy in the United States, 1935-1955.

The history of frontal lobotomy is a dramatic chapter in the development of medical treatment. Based on experimentally induced lesions in primates, lobotomies were introduced as procedures designed to modify the affect and behavior of hospitalized mental patients. Within 10 years, variations in surgical techniques were numerous, and the treatment was an accepted alternative in many hospitals in the United States. Patients on whom the operation was performed had a variety of diagnoses, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and affective illness. With the introduction of neuroleptic medication and behavior and milieu therapies, this surgical treatment for the emotional component of psychiatric illness fell into disuse. As its legacy to medicine, frontal lobotomy provided neuroanatomical information from which contemporary biological theories of behavior developed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cherokee State Hospital


[edit]Early years

As early as 1890, a movement was begun to build a fourth mental hospital in the state and northwest Iowa was the logical location for it. The plan was to relieve crowding from the other hospitals in Mount Pleasant, IowaClarinda, IowaIndependence, Iowa, In 1894, Cherokee residents started an active campaign to get the legislature to select their city for the new hospital. Many other northwest Iowa towns also vied for the hospital, including Sheldon, LeMars, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake and "Pocahontas Center". It took 14 ballots in the legislature to give Cherokee the hospital. The legislature appropriated $12,000 to purchase a site, but it was 6½ years after the first excavation before the administration building, sitting on bare prairie land, was ready for occupancy. There was a struggle each session of the legislature to get appropriations to continue with the building. The original plan for patients was to hold alcoholics, geriactrics, drug addicts, the mentally-ill, and the criminally-insane.
The hospital was opened for patients on August 15, 1902 under the name Cherokee Lunatic Asylum. The name changed several times over the years, going from Iowa Lunatic Asylum to Cherokee State Hospital. The first Superintendent, Dr. N. Nelson Voldeng, worked all the summer to equip and ready it for 700 patients. From August 15 to August 26, eight patients were admitted. On August 26, 1902, 306 patients were transferred from Independence and two days later 252 from Clarinda. These patients were brought by special trainsand met with teams and hayracks at the end of the Illinois Central Railroad spur and transported to the hospital. The dormitory for employees, built in the 1940s was named Wirth Hall in 1962 for the late J.E. Wirth, business manager here many years. The early years were dark and brutal for the patients.

[edit]Later developments

Over the years, a significant change has occurred in the patient/staff ratio and employee salaries/benefits. In 1910, 81 persons were employed in the nursing service department, caring for 881 patients. These employees worked 12 to 14 hours per day, with one half-day off per week, for a base salary of $24.00 to $30.00 per month, plus room and board. Most of the living quarters were located in the wards where the patients also resided.
Beginning with about 600 patients, the hospital population increased year by year until the peak was reached in December 1945 with a total patient census/population of 1,729, beds in every hall and every building being overtaxed. Then began the gradual campaign to send patients who had reached maximum hospital benefits back to their own counties. Initially, social workers found placements for the mentally-retarded and the indigent in the community and at the "county farms". With the discovery of psychotropic drugs in the 1950s, the push for getting rid of restraints, community-based services and the establishment of Mental Health Centers in the 1960s, the massive asylum census continued its decline. Today, the average daily census is approximately 44 patients as the emphasis for community-based services increases and lengths of stay shorten due to medical advances and psychosocial rehabilitation.
Cherokee Mental Health Institute (CMHI) is one of 11 programs at the "Cherokee Regional Resource Center", a 208-acre (0.84 km2) campus under the direction of the Iowa Department of Human Services. Out of Iowa's 99 counties, CMHI serves the public mental health needs of 41 counties for adults and 56 for adolescents. CMHI receives 530 inpatient admission per year, has an average daily inpatient census of 44 patients, and an average length of stay of 25 days.
Most of the south wing is currently home to a prison and is surrounded by prison-grade fencing. It also holds criminally-insane and violent patients.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Metropolitan State Hospital

treatment we’d rather not think about.  To hear the word conjures up images we try and block out.  The 
buildings, designed to be inviting and practical, fit into our worst visions of these asylums, and as they fell into 
ruin they became more and more intimidating.  The torment that went on in them and the patients who died 
without names and without peace create a settling ripe for ghosts and ghost stories.

Although not as famous as its nearby cousin Danvers State Hospital, Metropolitan State Hospital in Middlesex 
County, Massachusetts has become known itself for the type of ghosts and ghostly legends that give people 
nightmares.  No one knows what went on behind the cement walls of that building, but our imagination has 
created its resident’s lives.  When reports started to come out about the strange happenings on its grounds, 
Metro State was labeled as haunted, and since its closure in 1992 those rumors have been confirmed time and 
time again.  Trespassers inside the building and people just interested in the beauty of the land say the same 
things doctors and mental health workers had said for decades.  Metro State is haunted.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


 people where so mis treated back in the 1800's .doctors where trying new treatments on these people all the time . whether it killed them or not . i think most of the doctors where more insane the the people in the asylums .

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Abandoned Mental Hospitals

Mental disorder has always had its share of fear and stigma which is still evident in the walls of many asylums. The abandoned buildings have their tales of being haunted by the ghosts of their past. More so when we realise that the once inhabitants had been declared to be clinically insane by the society. Having been inhabited by the mentally challenged, their bad memories magnifies within the walls of the architecture. Yet asylums stand still to great character, rare solace, and irresistible magnetism for urban explorers. The era of old lunatic asylums is over as many of the modern psychiatric hospitals were closed down during the late 20th century, as the British society shunned the practice of isolating people suffering from mentally illness in secure institutions. The Care in the Community Act of 1980 has marked the transition in the way these people are being treated. We are showing you the ten creepiest yet most fascinating abandoned asylums in the UK AND THE US 

Mt. Vernon Insane Hospital

The plans for a state hospital for the mentally ill in Alabama began in 1852. The new facility was planned from the start to utilize the "moral architecture" concepts of 1830s activists Thomas Story Kirkbride and Dorothea Dix. Dix's reformist ideas, in particular, are credited as the driving force behind the construction of the hospital. Architect Samuel Sloan designed the Italianate building using the Kirkbride Plan. Construction of the building began in 1853 but was not completed until 1859. The hospital was the first building in Tuscaloosa with gas lighting and central heat,[4] "all clad in a fashionable Italianate exterior."[2] The Alabama Insane Hospital opened in 1861. It was later renamed for its first superintendent, Peter Bryce, a 27-year-old psychiatric pioneer from South Carolina. Bryce had been brought to the attention of the hospital trustees by Dix. He had studied mental health care in Europe and worked in psychiatric hospitals in New Jersey as well as his native South Carolina.[4] His tenure was marked by absolute discipline among the staff of the hospital. He demanded that patients be given courtesy, kindness and respect at all times. The use of shackles, straitjackets and other restraints was discouraged, and finally abandoned altogether in 1882. Various work programs and other activities were encouraged, including farming, sewing, maintenance and crafts. Between 1872 and the early 1880s, some of the patients wrote and edited their own newspaper, called The Meteor. These writings provide a rare inside look at life in a progressive mental institution in the late 19th century. At that time, Bryce's management and commitment to "scientific treatments" was recognized around the country as in a class of its own. [edit]Decline During the 20th century, the patient population expanded while standards of care fell to abysmal levels. Alabama Governor Lurleen Wallace viewed the facility in February 1967, and was moved to tears after an overweight, mentally challenged nine-year old attempted to hug her, crying "Mama! Mama!" She lobbied her husband, George Wallace (who held the actual power of her governorship) for more funds for the institution.[5] In 1970, Alabama ranked last among U.S. states in funding for mental health. Bryce Hospital at that time had 5,200 patients living in conditions that a Montgomery Advertiser editor likened to a concentration camp. That same year, a cigarette tax earmarked for mental health treatment was cut. One hundred Bryce employees were laid off, including twenty professional staff. Members of the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama attempted to file suit on behalf of the laid-off workers, but Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson ruled that the courts had no standing to intervene on behalf of fired employees. He left open, however, the possibility of a suit filed on behalf of patients, whose quality of care was affected. [edit]Wyatt v. Stickney In October 1970, Ricky Wyatt, a fifteen-year-old who had always been labeled a "juvenile delinquent" and housed at Bryce despite not being indicated with a mental illness, became the named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit.[6] His aunt, W. C. Rawlins, was one of the employees that had been laid off. Together they testified about intolerable conditions and improper treatments designed only to make the patients more manageable. In 1971 the plaintiff class was expanded to include patients at Alabama's two other inpatient mental health facilities, Searcy Hospital (Mt. Vernon) and Camp Partlow (Coker). The resulting court-ordered agreements formed the basis for federal minimum standards for the care of people with mental illness or mental retardations who reside in institutional settings. In 1999 a new settlement agreement was made recognizing a great deal of progress. The case was finally dismissed on December 5, 2003, with the finding by Judge Myron Thompson that Alabama was in compliance with the agreement. The standards elaborated in that agreement have served as a model nationwide. Known as the "Wyatt Standards," they are founded on four criteria for evaluation of care: Humane psychological and physical environment Qualified and sufficient staff for administration of treatment Individualized treatment plans Minimum restriction of patient freedom. The case of Wyatt v. Stickney came to a conclusion after 33 years, through the tenure of nine Alabama governors and fourteen state mental health commissioners, the longest mental health case in national history. The State of Alabama estimates its litigation expenses at over $15 million.[6] [edit]Future of Bryce Hospital Gov. Bob Riley announced on December 30, 2009 that Bryce Hospital will relocate into a newly constructed facility across McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, and the University of Alabama will take over the current Bryce campus. For several years the university had sought the 180-acre (73 ha) parcel of land, which is adjacent to its landlocked campus.[7] Riley said that a hospital for about 268 patients has been envisioned but the final size has yet to be determined. The deal, approved by Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Department of Mental Health on December 30, is worth $72 million in cash for Mental Health to build a replacement hospital. The university will pay $50 million in cash and Mental Health will get another $22 million in state bond money. The university has pledged another $10 million to clean up environmental problems on the Bryce grounds and restore the main hospital building, construction of which started in 1853.[7] The state had explored other options to replace Bryce, including possibly renovating vacant Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham and moving Bryce clients there, or contracting with a private company to construct and operate a new facility

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wolfe House/Andleberry Estate, Clovis, CA

Now known alternately as the Wolfe House, Andleberry Estate, and the Clovis Sanitarium, this large, imposing house sits on Clovis Avenue in the city of Clovis, near Fresno, California. Built in the first half of the 20th century, the house is said to have served as a private home for two different owners, an insane asylum, and a convalescent hospital before finally closing. It was bought by Todd Wolfe, who decided to use the creepy old building as a Halloween "Haunted House" attraction. He created a new name and implied fictional history for the house, and i became "Andleberry Estate" founded in 1871. Local lore, and Wolfe's own stories, hold that he got a real haunted house and not just a Halloween attraction.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lincoln Insane Asylum Lincoln, Nebraska Established 1870

"Prior to the location and building of the hospital at Lincoln, the insane of the State were sent to Iowa's insane asylum. The bill locating and appropriating funds for the hospital building was introduced in the Legislature and passed in 1868.
Joseph Ward, of Lincoln, received the contract September 15, 1869. The building was completed at a cost of $137,000 and accepted by the commissioners November 29, 1870.
The institution was opened December 22, 1870, Dr. Larsh as superintendent, with twenty-six inmates; but its usefulness was of short duration, for it was burned April 17, 1871, and three inmates are supposed to have perished, as that number was missing. The building was heated with hot air and it is thought the fire originated in a defective flue. June 6, 1871, a bill was approved in the Legislature providing for rebuilding the hospital, which was to cost not to exceed $70,000. The commissioners were William E. Hill, D. W. Scott and Samuel Maxwell. The insurance on the first building was nearly sufficient to build the second, which is of light gray sandstone from the Atchison quarries. The central or main building is four stories in height, the wings which extend north and south, are three stories. The ground dimensions are 328x54 feet. The coming year two additions are to built, one on the north and one on the south, each four stories, 44x56 feet on the ground, which will give the building a very fine appearance. These additions are needed, as there are now 232 inmates, nearly its full capacity. Total cost of buildings thus far, is $165,000.
The following are the several superintendents: Drs. N. B. Larsh, C. F. Stewart, D. W. Scott, F. G. Fuller and H. P. Mathewson, the present incumbent, who assumed control in the fall of 1877. The assistant physicians have been Drs. H. D. Gilbert, S. B. McGlumphy and J. F. Hay. Messrs. J. C. Shurts, O. M. Druse and L. F. Taylor have successfully held the position of steward. The Commissioners of Public Lands and Buildings, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General constitute the Board of Commissioners of this, as of every other charitable institution in the State.
The hospital owns 480 acres of land, by means of which it is nominally self-sustaining, or more nearly so than similar institutions of any other State. The cost per capita per week, has been reduced from $7.70 to $3.45. Nebraska provides for all of her insane and in a very generous manner. The building is commodious, the grounds are pleasant and well kept, and in a few years will be picturesque and inviting"
from the Andreas History of the State of Nebraska, a book first published in 1882 by The Western Historical Company, A. T. Andreas, Proprietor, Chicago, IL.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Manteno State Hospital Manteno, Illinois

n 1927, Illinois State Governor Len Small, the “Good Roads
Governor”, was building roads, expanding universities, accepting bribes from “the syndicate” (as some sources suggest) and overseeing plans for the construction of a new state hospital in Manteno, Illinois.
Although the ground wasn’t broken until 1928, the plans were well underway
for an institution that was to provide relief from the over crowed situations at several other Illinois state hospitals.
In 1930 the Manteno State Hospital received its first 100 patients and by the end of 1985, the hospital was closed and remaining patients were sent elsewhere. For over 50 years Manteno State Hospital was an institution that cared for the mentally and
physically ill, the developmentally disabled and veterans of various wars. With a peak population of over 8,000 patients, Manteno State Hospital was a self contained city with little reliability on other municipal resources.
Yet, to this day, very little is known about Manteno State Hospital,who worked there, what happened there, when it was opened, why it was closed, and how it operated. It has become a faded memory of the past, a subject of much curiosity and the setting
of many a folklore and urban legend.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


As some of you know ,most of the Asylums where run by some  doctors that didn't care in the late 40's early 50's .there been so many reports from paranormal teams and investigators of children entity's  maybe there is some truth to this .
Its sad to see how they where left to pretty much die by some of the staff .
shouldn't some body be brought on charges for this in justice to these people .



  • A form of aversion therapy, such as:
    • Electroconvulsive therapy, or electroshock, a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anaesthetized patients for therapeutic effect
    • Insulin shock therapy, a form of psychiatric treatment in which patients were repeatedly injected with large doses of insulin in order to produce daily comas

Friday, June 29, 2012


There are so many insane asylum around the world ,this one in Mother RUSSIA.
As you can see that it run down and not well taken care of .As you can also see some of the files from this ASYLUM .

Essex County Hospital Center

n 1896, a large portion of land was purchased by the City of Newark, New Jersey; the land was bought to build a new hospital to relive pressure in the overcrowded Newark Hospital. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many buildings were built that housed patients and other facilities, such as a power house, laundromat, and theater. According to Weird New Jersey, in the winter of 1917, the hospital suffered a major catastrophe with the failure of the hospital's boilers and a number of patients freezing to death in their beds. In the mid 1920's, the tri-state mental correction board bought the land and converted Overbrook into a mental institution. The Overbrook asylum ran on, adding several add-ons and new wards until its abrupt close in the winter of 1975. It has been claimed that over 10,000 patients have died before it was closed. A large mental institution such as Overbrook would be kept out of public view and knowledge, because official few books, articles and maps have been found. In 2008, the hospital was featured on the paranormal reality TV shows Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters.

[edit]New hospital

In late 2006, the new Essex County Hospital Center 40°51′07″N 74°14′03″W opened just down the road from the site of the original Overbrook Hospital. This hospital center houses chronically ill psychiatric patients in need of longer lengths of stay than are available in community hospitals and medical centers. The new hospital center takes a cutting edge approach to behavioral health care, and its layout and programs stand in stark contrast to the hundred year old facility it replaced. The new hospital is located at 204 Grove Avenue in Cedar Grove.

The Essex County Hospital Center is a defunct psychiatric hospital that is located in the Township ofCedar Grove, New Jersey. The hospital was used as a normal hospital then converted to house mentally illpatients that were in need of care. Located at the edge of the Hilltop Reservation and designated a Conservation Easement in 2001 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the site now is part of the Essex County park system

Many paranormal teams have come 

to investigate these old Asylum .

There been reports of shadow people ,voices,being touched .
on a scale of 1 to 10 i would give it a 
8 for paranormal activity .so if you are in new jersey,stop by this place and say hello to some of it ghosts .But as always please don't trespass check with your local police dept first .  

Thursday, June 28, 2012


The story of the rise of the lunatic asylum and its gradual transformation into, and eventual replacement by, the modern psychiatric hospital, is also the story of the rise of organized, institutional psychiatry. While there were earlier institutions that housed the 'insane' the arrival at the answer of institutionalisation as the correct solution to the problem of madness was very much an event of the nineteenth century. To illustrate this with one regional example, in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century there were, perhaps, a few thousand 'lunatics' housed in a variety of disparate institutions but by 1900 that figure had grown to about 100,000. That this growth should coincide with the growth of alienism, later known as psychiatry, as a medical specialism is not coincidental.

Medieval era

In the Islamic world, the Bimaristans were described by European travelers, who wrote on their wonder at the care and kindness shown to lunatics. In 872, Ahmad ibn Tulun built a hospital in Cairo that provided care to the insane.[2] Nonetheless, medical historian Roy Porter cautions against idealising the role of hospitals generally in medieval Islam stating that "They were a drop in the ocean for the vast population that they had to serve, and their true function lay in highlighting ideals of compassion and bringing together the activities of the medical profession."[3]
In Europe during the medieval era, a variety of settings were employed to house the small subsection of the population of the mad who were housed in institutional settings. Porter gives examples of such locales where some of the insane were cared for, such as in monasteries. A few towns had towers where madmen were kept (called Narrentürme or fools' tower). The ancient Parisian hospital Hôtel-Dieu also had a small number of cells set aside for lunatics, whilst the town of Elbing boasted a madhouse,Tollhaus, attached to the Teutonic Knights' hospital.[4] Other such institutions for the insane were established after the Christian Reconquista, including hospitals in Valencia (1407), Zaragoza (1425), Seville (1436), Barcelona (1481), and Toledo (1483).[citation needed] The Priory of Saint Mary of Bethlehem, which later became known more notoriously as Bedlam, was founded in 1247. At the start of the fifteenth century it housed just six insane men.[5] The former lunatic asylum Het Dolhuys from the 16th century in Haarlem, the Netherlands is now a museum of psychiatry with an overview of treatments from the origins of the building up to the 1990s.

18th century

Eastern State Hospital was the first psychiatric institution to be founded in the United States.
In the United States, Virginia is recognized as the first state to establish an institution for the mentally ill.[6] Eastern State Hospital, located in Williamsburg, was founded in 1773. Along with the first institution in America, Virginia also founded the first Colored Asylum in 1870.[7] Their land was given to them by the House of Burgessesin 1769.[6]
Phillipe Pinel (1793) is often credited as being the first in Europe to introduce more humane methods into the treatment of the mentally ill (which came to be known as moral treatment) as the superintendent of the Asylum de Bicêtre in Paris.[8] A hospital employee of Asylum de Bicêtre, Jean-Baptiste Pussin, was actually the first one to remove patient restraints. Pussin influenced Pinel and they both served to spread reforms such as categorising the disorders, as well as observing and talking to patients as methods of cure. Vincenzo Chiarugi in Italy may have banned chains before this time. Johann Jakob Guggenbühl in 1840 started inInterlaken the first retreat for mentally disabled children.[citation needed]
Around the same time as Pussin and Pinel, the Quakers, particularly William Tuke, pioneered an enlightened approach (moral treatment) in England at the York Retreat which opened in 1796. The Retreat was not a psychiatric hospital, and in fact the medical approaches of the day were abandoned in favor of understanding, hope, moral responsibility and occupational therapy.[9] The Brattleboro Retreat and the former Hartford Retreat were named after it.

19th century

In 1817, William Ellis was appointed as superintendent to the newly built West Riding Pauper Asylum at Wakefield. As a Methodist, he had strong religious convictions. With his wife as matron, they put into action those things they had learned from the Sculcoates Refuge in Hull which operated on a similar model as the York. After 13 years, as a result of their highly regarded reputation, were invited to oversee the newly built first pauper asylum in Middlesex called the Hanwell Asylum. Accepting the posts, the asylum opened in May 1831. Here the Ellises introduced their own brand of humane treatment and 'moral therapy' combined with 'therapeutic employment.' As its initial capacity was 450 patients, it was already the largest asylum in the country and subject to even more building soon after. Therefore, the immediate and continuing success of humane therapy working on such a large scale encouraged its adoption at other asylums. In recognition of all this work he received a knighthood. He continued to develop therapeutic treatments for mental disorders, always with moral treatment as the guiding principle.[10]
In Lincoln (LincolnshireEnglandRobert Gardiner Hill, with the support of Edward Parker Charlesworth, developed a mode of treatment that suited 'all types' of patients, whereby the reliance on mechanical restraints and coercion could be made obsolete altogether - a situation he finally achieved in 1838.[citation needed]
By the following year of 1839 Sergeant John Adams and Dr. John Conolly were so impressed by the work of Hill, that they immediately introduced the method into their Hanwell Asylum, which was by then the largest in the kingdom. The greater size required Hill's system to be developed and refined. This was necessary as it was beyond Conolly to be able to supervise each attendant as closely as Hill had done. Even so, he bid a pair of extra soft slippers made so that he could walk around the building at night without his foot falls warning the attendants of his imminent approach. By September 1839, mechanical restraint was no longer required for any patient. For years, this day was remembered at the Hanwell asylum by a celebration on its anniversary.[citation needed] Conolly also was a very accomplished communicator who wrote and lectured widely about his work in mental health.[citation needed] [11] [12]
Reformers, such as American Dorothea Dix began to advocate a more humane and progressive attitude towards the mentally ill. Some were motivated by a Christian duty to mentally ill citizens. In the United States, for example, numerous states established state mental health systems paid for by taxpayer money (and often money from the relatives of those institutionalized inside them). These centralized institutions were often linked with loose governmental bodies, though oversight and quality consequently varied. They were generally geographically isolated as well, located away from urban areas because the land was cheap and there was less political opposition. Many state hospitals in the United States were built in the 1850s and 1860s on the Kirkbride Plan, an architectural style meant to have curative effect.[13] States made large outlays on architecture that often resembled the palaces of Europe, although operating funding for ongoing programs was more scarce. Many patients objected to transfers from private hospitals to state facilities. Some Brattleboro Retreat patients tried to hide when state officials arrived to transfer them to the new Waterbury State Hospital. This decline in patient census led to the collapse of many private institutions, which still accepted indigent patients even when state reimbursement for private hospitals dropped in the face of rising state hospital costs.

20th century

[edit]Radical politics

In February 1919, the first soviet in the British Isles was established at Monaghan Lunatic Asylum, inMonaghanIreland. This led to the claim by Joseph Devlin in the House of Commons that "that the only successfully conducted institutions in Ireland are the lunatic asylums"[

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As a teenager i visited Danvers State Hospital ,So you all know my uncle Thomas Berry was the barber for the Asylum .As a teenager after visiting this place i fell in love with Asylums .Do you think that all old Asylums are haunted?I have to visit a few,Watch a ball move around a room by it self . A lot of people and paranormal teams check out these old Asylums and get all kinds of evidence from these reported haunted location .Is it our imagination that makes us think that these places are really haunted or are they really haunted .You go to these places with led paint .and these building are also in poor conditions .I love these old buildings and i will always jump to investigate a old Asylum.
Eric Perry 
Founder and lead investigator 
Central NH Paranormal Society .
june ,27.2012   





In 1903, the Pennsylvania Legislature authorized the creation of the Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic and a commission was organized to take into consideration the number and status of the feeble-minded and epileptic persons in the state and determine a placement for construction to care for these residents.
This commission discovered 1,146 feeble-minded persons in insane hospitals and 2,627 in almshouses, county-care hospitals, reformatories, and prisons and were in immediate need of specialized institutional care.
Birds Eye View of Campus, 1934
The legislation stated that the buildings would be in two groups, one for the educational and industrial department, and one for the custodial or asylum department. The institution was required to accommodate no less than five hundred inmates or patients, with room for additions.

Construction and Design

[edit]Building Designation

From 1903 to 1908 the first buildings were constructed on 633.913 acres (2.56535 km2) of Crab Hill in Spring City, Pennsylvania, Chester County on what was referred to as the lower campus. Out of the first few buildings constructed, 'F' was the Girl's Dining Room, 'G' was the Kitchen and Store Room, 'H', 'I' and 'K' were a Cottage for Girls, 'N' was the Boys' Dining Room, 'P' was the Teachers Home, 'Q', T', 'U' and 'V' were a Cottage for Boys, 'R' was a School, 'W' was Laundry and Sewing, and 'X' was the Power House.
'P' was used as a temporary Administration building until the institution's opening in 1918 along with the opening of ‘L’ and ‘M’ in 1919. In 1921, Whitman and Wilson I and II were constructed along with Penn Hall for employee housing; in 1929, the Assembly building was complete and functioned as the gymnasium and auditorium.
The buildings on lower campus are currently labeled with letters such as 'F', 'I', 'K', 'P', 'Q', 'R', 'N', 'U', 'V', 'T', 'W' and 'X' with names later assigned in the 1960's (see below).
In 1930, the first buildings on the upper campus, otherwise known as the Female Colony, were completed and named Pershing, Buchanan, Audubon and Keystone. Capitol Hall was erected after World War II along with Devon constructed on lower campus. Horizon Hall opened later in 1971.

[edit]Lower Campus Buildings

Administration, Philadelphia, Quaker, Rockwell, Franklin, Nobel, Union, Vincennes, Tinicum, Industry, Penn, Devon, Mayflower, Limerick, Assembly, Storeroom, Laundry, Whitman, Wilson I, Wilson II, Hershey, Dietary

[edit]Upper Campus Buildings

Pershing, Buchanan, Audubon, Keystone, Capitol, Horizon

[edit]Other Buildings

Power House, Treatment Plant, Director's House, Green House


The older buildings, designed by Phillip H. Johnson, were two-storied, and made of red brick, terra cotta and granite trimmings. They were connected by fire-proof tunnels with walkways on top of the tunnels for the use of transporting residents with a parallel steam piping system, and were distributed on the 1,400-acre (5.7 km2) campus in the cottage plan formation. The buildings were designed to provide a large number of small rooms occupied by from two to three beds, a few small dormitories with from eight to ten beds, and a large exercising day room. George Lovatt was the architect for several of the buildings constructed post-1937.
The central Administration building has two side-porte-cocheres, a front portico and a copper cupola in the center of the roof. The hospital building, Whitman and Wilson I and II are not tunnel connected nor is Penn Hall and the Power House. The remaining cottage buildings are 'L' and 'I' shaped with the exception of Dietary which 'Y'shaped is and Devon Hall which is 'H' shaped.
Birds Eye View of Campus, 1934


The Pennsylvania Railroad created a Pennhurst Station on its Schuylkill Division concurrent to accommodate Pennhurst. Coal and other supplies were delivered by rail for decades to operate the power house. Tracks are still visible under the pavement behind Dietary and Devon Hall, which allowed boxcars to be brought directly onto the main campus. The railroad tracks have been removed and are now part of the Schuylkill River Trail
The Superintendent reported to the Board of Trustees that:
It is without question absolutely wrong to place the feeble-minded and epileptic in the same institution. They are not the same; they are as different, one from the other, as day is from night. They are mentally, physically and morally incompatible, and require entirely different treatment.
The mission of the institution was clarified once again and only people with mental disabilities were to be admitted. Recreation of the train tracks has started and they are working to create a working train transportation system.

General Operation


On November 23, 1908, "Patient number 1" was admitted to the hospital. Within four years of operation, Pennhurst was already overcrowded and under pressure[who?] to admit immigrants, orphans and criminals.


Residents were classified into mental categories of imbecile or insane, into physical categories of epileptic or healthy, and into dental categories of good, poor or treated teeth when admitted.

[edit]Physical Condition of Children

Some of the sensorial and functional anomalies, vices of constitution and habit, and disorders of volition common to the feeble-minded admitted to Pennhurst were Strabismus, defective sight and/or hearing, mute, semi-mute, imperfect speech, paralytic, epileptic, blind, imperfect gait, imperfect prehension, deformity of face, head, limbs and/or feet, microcephalic or hydrocephalic head, and offensive habits.


The branches of industry which residents were assigned to were mattress making, shoe making and repair, grading, farming, laundry, domestic duties, sewing, baking, butchering, painting, and working in the store.

[edit]Segregation and Eugenics

In 1913, the legislature appointed a Commission for the Care of the Feeble-Minded which stated that the disabled were unfit for citizenship and posed a menace to the peace, and thus recommended a program of custodial care. Furthermore, the Commission desired to prevent the intermixing of the genes of those imprisoned with the general population. In the Biennial Report to the Legislature submitted by the Board of Trustees, Pennhurst's Chief Physician quoted Henry H. Goddard, a leading eugenicist, as follows:
Every feeble-minded person is a potential criminal. The general public, although more convinced today than ever before that it is a good thing to segregate the idiot or the distinct imbecile, they have not as yet been convinced as to the proper treatment of the defective delinquent, which is the brighter and more dangerous individual.


In 1916, the Board of Trustees initiated a plan to increase the capacity of the Institution by constructing cottages specifically for females to segregate them from the males, in part to prevent pregnancies.


In 1968, conditions at Pennhurst were exposed in a five-part television news report anchored by local CBS10 correspondent Bill Baldini. "Suffer the Little Children".[3]
In 1983, nine employees were indicted on charges ranging from slapping and beating patients (including some in wheelchairs) to arranging for patients to assault each other.[4]
The Halderman Case, which resulted in the closure of the institution, also detailed widespread patient abuse.


A class-action case was filed against Pennhurst State School on behalf of its patients. The case was heard by U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Broderick, who in 1977 ruled that the conditions at the institution violated patients' constitutional rights. Pennhurst State School was ultimately closed in 1987. Its 460 patients were discharged or transferred to other facilities in a process known as deinstitutionalization that lasted several years, and included discussion of treatment plans with each patient's family.

[edit]Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital

The allegations of abuse led to the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States, a federal class action,Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital, 446 F.Supp. 1295 (E.D. Pa., 1977), which asserted that the developmentally disabled in the care of the state have a constitutional right to appropriate care and education. Terry Lee Halderman had been a resident of Pennhurst, and upon release she filed suit in the federal district court on behalf of herself and other residents of Pennhurst. The complaint alleged that conditions at Pennhurst were unsanitary, inhumane and dangerous, violating the fourteenth amendment, and that Pennhurst used cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth and fourteenth amendments, as well as the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Retardation Act of 1966 (MH/MR). The District Court ruled that certain of the patients' rights had been violated. Ultimately, however, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the judgment based on the Eleventh Amendment principle that federal courts cannot order state officials to comply with state laws. [5] As noted below, the institution was eventually closed pursuant to a settlement agreement that required that community-based services be offered to all of its residents.

[edit]Modern Day

Administration in the Spring (Photo by: The Joker )
A View of Administration
After many years of determining what to do with Pennhurst, Congressman Jim Gerlach sought to establish a federal veterans cemetery at Pennhurst in 2003 but the VA rejected the proposal.
In 2005, the state adopted the Keystone Principles concerning the state's duties to maintain historic property and to consult with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission before transferring the property into private hands. Local County officialssupervisors approved a private development and Pennhurst was sold to a developer, Pennhurst Associates, for two million dollars. The Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance (PMPA) was formed to advocate for certain uses of the site.
Pennhurst was added to the National Register of Historic Places and Pennsylvania's list of the most At-Risk Pennsylvania Properties as well as the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a worldwide network of historic sites specifically dedicated to remembering struggles for justice.
In partnership with the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, PMPA obtained a grant to complete a re-use design and feasibility study of the Pennhurst campus. As of 2010, Penn Organic Recycling LLC currently operates on four-and-a-half-acres of Pennhurst, offering tpping, composting and food waste services. The Department of Environmental Protection permitted the composting operation at Pennhurst to maintain no more than 25 tons.
Pennhurst was featured on the shows Ghost Adventures on Travel ChannelGhost Hunters on SyFy andCelebrity Ghost Stories on BIO.