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Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on June 8, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Pennhurst State Asylum (Also known as The Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-minded and Epileptic)

The Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-minded and Epileptic was founded by legislative acts of May 15, 1903. Primarily designed as a training school for the feeble-minded, it became, through change in the legislative act, a custodial institution as well. Consequently two distinct sections are maintained: one for such epileptic and feeble-minded as require custodial care, and the second for the training of feeble-minded children.The buildings are erected on a modification of the cottage plan, grouped closely together and connected by corridors. They are two stories in height, of brick and terra cotta, with granite trimmings, and fireproof throughout. They are so arranged as 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 day exercising room. The patients were fed in a general dining room, with the exception of the "low grades" who were housed in a separate building. Initially, a large percentage of patients were admitted voluntarily. Up to March, 1912, no female patients were being received.

From 1903 to 1908 the first buildings were constructed on 633.913 acres of Crab Hill in Spring City, Pennsylvania 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. 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. The patients would be separated by their intelligence level in different buildings; some could almost function on their own, and others could not feed or bathe themselves. The most severely stricken patients would lie in cribs all day, barely able to move or roll over. The constant attention needed for the patients was a very difficult task to begin with, but when overcrowding became apparent, the care and living conditions became appalling. 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 patient’s 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.

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 officials supervisors 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 tipping, composting and food waste services. The Department of Environmental Protection permitted the composting operation at Pennhurst to maintain no more than 25 tons.In 2010 an organization established a "haunted attraction" in the former administration building. The attraction is called "Pennhurst Asylum" and as of Jan 2012 has run a seasonal "haunted asylum attraction" for the last two years. The group has been criticized by preservationists for the damage they have done to the former hospital, such as moving the morgue coolers into the administration building. They also continue perpetuate a bad stigma that is seen by many people about state hospitals.

Pennhurst was constructed and opened in 1908 as a state school for the mentally and physically disabled. Pennhurst's property was vast, covering 120 acres. Created to house over 10,000 patients at a point in time, Pennhurst was one of the largest institutions of its kind in Pennsylvania. Half of Pennhurst's residents were committed by court order and the other half were brought by a parent or other guardian. It was devoted strictly to the care, treatment and education of the disabled. Originally named Pennhurst Home for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, it finally was just called Pennhurst State School. Pennhurst employed a large number of staff to help assist in maintaining the facility. This staff included a board of trustees, medical staff, dental staff, and specialists in psychology, social services, accounting, and various fields of education. The grounds of Pennhurst included a 300-bed hospital, which had a full nursing staff and two surgeons on call at all times. Others at Pennhurst included members of the clergy and farming experts who grew most of Pennhurst's food . Pennhurst was an essentially self-sufficient community, its 1,400-acre site containing a firehouse, general store, barber shop, movie theatre, auditorium and even a greenhouse. The buildings of Pennhurst were named after towns in Pennsylvania such as Chester and Devon. The original buildings were designed by architect Phillip H. Johnson. All of Pennhurst's electricity was generated by an on-site power plant. A cemetery lay on the property, as well as baseball and recreational fields for the residents. Many of Pennhurst's buildings were strictly for storage; however, the majority were dormitory and hospital-style living quarters for the residents. Many of the buildings had security screens that were accessed on the inside, to prevent patients from escaping, or jumping to their deaths. Most of the stairwells had security fences to keep patients from jumping over the railings. Many of the buildings are linked by an underground tunnel system designed for transportation of handicapped patients to and from the dormitory, recreational buildings and dietary.

Pennhurst was often accused of dehumanizitation and was said to have provided no help to the mentally challenged. The institution had a long history of staff difficulties and negative public image, for example, a 1968 report by NBC called "Suffer the Little Children". Pennhurst State School was closed in 1986 following several allegations of abuse. These allegations led to the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States, Pennhurst State School and Hospital vs. Halderman, which asserted that the mentally retarded have a constitutional right to living quarters and an education. Terry Lee Halderman had been a resident of the school, and upon release she filed suit in the district court on behalf of herself and all other residents of Pennhurst. The complaint alleged that conditions at Pennhurst were unsanitary, inhumane and dangerous, that these living conditions violated the fourteenth amendment, and that Pennhurst used cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth and fourteenth amendments. 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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also concluded that the physical, mental, and intellectual skills of most patients had deteriorated while in Pennhurst.

In 1986, Pennhurst was ordered closed, and began a program of de-institutionalism that lasted several years. Once the buildings were closed, they began to rapidly deteriorate from lack of heating, moisture invasion and vandalism. Thousands of people began to illegally tour the property spray painting everything in sight and breaking all the glass in the place. Theft was rampant and the destruction of the property was in full swing. Patients were thrown out and a large homeless contingent developed in the area.

Pennhurst fell into complete ruin as the complex was shut down. Buildings were abandoned as they were, with patient’s clothes and belonging strewn about. Furniture, cabinets and medical equipment were left to decay as if someone had just got up and walked out the front door. This is the place that will eventually resurrect into one of the most studied properties in the ghost hunter media, and will become an amazing haunted attraction.

Pennhurst is intriguing as a haunted location. This place is really haunted. Several reputable Ghost Hunter groups have documented audible recordings, temperature changes, and unexplained movement of objects in the buildings of Pennhurst. The once beautiful courtyards are now overgrown and the children’s playground equipment lay rotting all around. Many local residents have a strong feeling that the memories of the atrocities that occurred here should be preserved in some way so that they will not re-occur in the future. Featured on the Travel Channel, the Ghost Adventures crew have recorded many strange voices, noises and unexplained movement and documented this in their shows. The Pennhurst Ghost Tours, open to professional and amateur ghost hunters, has been a huge success, with recordings, photos and accounts of physical contact throughout the Pennhurst complex. So, if you want to get scared, come to Pennhurst Asylum. You may even witness the supernatural… whether you want to or not. Contrary to myth, Pennhurst was not a place where evil people wrought intentionally evil schemes. But that makes the meaning even more relevant and the danger even more real: the neglect rising to the level of abuse described in the groundbreaking Pennhurst litigation excerpted below was perpetrated by our own society, in our own backyard, within our own lifetimes. As a former Special Assistant to Pennhurst's Superintendent has said, "Pennhurst was a mistake from day one, but it was a mistake made by all of us, following the dictates of the 'best minds' of its time." Against the backdrop of the state's neglect, countless unremarked acts of kindness from workers and families added bits of humanity to institutional life. It is, no doubt, the resilience of Pennhurst's residents themselves that is the most inspiring part of the institution's story.

Some History

Originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania Institution for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, Pennhurst was once seen as a model institution. It was a product of a self-proclaimed "progressive" era when the solution to dealing with disability was forced segregation and sterilization. Since the 18th century - a similarly self-proclaimed age of enlightenment - people with illness and disabilities were labeled "defectives." As late as 1820, such "defectives," along with other dependent "deviant" groups such as aged paupers and the sick poor, were grouped together and sold to the lowest bidder. A similarly conceived philosophy of disposal at the lowest cost was played out time and again at Pennhurst. If only slowly and person-by-person, a growing and maturing society reconsidered this philosophy. History written at Pennhurst demonstrated that what was once held out as the only right option was in fact hopelessly wrong. In contrast to the narratives of intense and prolonged tragedy, Pennhurst's largely untold stories of deep compassion and great character evidence a rise of kind conscience that inspires yet today. One Pennhurst staff member recalls how she and others would volunteer their time on Saturdays and Sundays to clean the residents - many of whom could not toilet themselves - since the state budget did not allocate for housekeeping services on weekends. Another describes sharing holidays at her home with Pennhurst residents whose own families had long since stopped visiting. But, also as shared by a former employee, there is another, rarely considered aspect to the Pennhurst story that is perhaps its most important: the indomitable and unbreakable power of the human spirit displayed every day by the residents themselves.

"The residents lived lives of inner dignity and grace in a world designed to strip that dignity from them."

--former Pennhurst employee.

Despite the obstacles institutionalization presented, many of Pennhurst's residents found ways to prosper. "They lived lives of inner dignity and grace" in an ammonia-washed world designed to strip that dignity from them. "This was especially true of the individuals who made up the "working patient" group. Day in and day out, they proved their worth helping to care for their worse-off peers by assisting the paid staff in nearly every aspect of life at Pennhurst. Even the most severely disabled found ways to assert their individuality and retain their humanity in the face of a system that dehumanized them in a million different ways. Many people who were told for years that they could not succeed beyond Pennhurst's gates proved the "professionals" wrong, going on to live independent lives of worth and value in the community long after the administration building's great oaken doors slammed shut for the last time. Just as we remember the sadness, we need also acknowledge these quiet triumphs of the human spirit.

Halderman vs. Pennhurst State School


Excerpts from the facts section of the federal district court case Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital (446 F.Supp. 1295) demonstrate the horrific conditions lack of funding created at Pennhurst. It was only through the dedication of the overworked staff, it seems, that any humanity at all was afforded in this institution.

Excerpts include: No psychologists are on duty at Pennhurst at night or over the weekend, thus, if a resident has an emotional crisis, he or she may go without treatment until the next morning or until the weekend is over. At Pennhurst, restraints are used as control measures in lieu of adequate staffing. Restraints can be either physical or chemical. The physical restraints range from placing the individual into a seclusion room to binding the person's hands or ankles with muffs or poseys, and binding the individual to a bed or a chair. Chemical restraints are usually psychotropic (i. e., tranquilizing) drugs. Seclusion rooms have been used to punish aggressive behavior. One eighteen year old individual spent six consecutive days in seclusion in 1974 for assaulting a Down's Syndrome resident. Often physical restraints are also used due to staff shortages. An extreme example is a female resident who, during the month of June 1976, was in a physical restraint for 651 hours 5 minutes; for the month of August, 1976, was in physical restraints for 720 hours; during September, 1976, was in physical restraints for 674 hours 20 minutes; and during the month of October, 1976, was in physical restraints for 647 hours 5 minutes. (Matthews, Deposition at 64-68). This resident was so extremely self-destructive she totally blinded herself. She was not enrolled in occupational therapy until early 1977. Once initiated, her programming has apparently been quite successful, and she is now able to be out of restraints for as much as four hours per day. (Foster, N.T. 23-43). Had this programming been initiated earlier, her self-inflicted injuries might have been avoided or at least lessened. Psychotropic drugs at Pennhurst are often used for control and not for treatment, and the rate of drug use on some of the units is extraordinarily high. The physical environment at Pennhurst is hazardous to the residents, both physically and psychologically. (Clements, N.T. 2-59). There is often excrement and urine on ward floors (Roos, N.T. 1-158; Smith, Deposition at 41), and the living areas do not meet minimal professional standards for cleanliness. (Youngberg, Deposition at 24). Outbreaks of pinworms and infectious disease are common (M. Conley, N.T. 16-193; Lowrie, N.T. 4-153; Hedson, Deposition at 122). As Superintendent Youngberg noted: “There is not adequate space for (the residents. The living areas do) not provide privacy for those persons who can handle privacy. There does not seem to be adequate activity areas or program areas or even general activity areas within the general living area or even adequate activity program areas away from the home living area.” (Deposition at 23). The environment at Pennhurst is not only not conducive to learning new skills, but it is so poor that it contributes to losing skills already learned. (Clements, N.T. 2-59). For example, Pennhurst has a toilet training program, but one who has successfully completed the program may not be able to practice the newly learned skill, and is therefore likely to lose it. (Clement, N.T. 2-36, 2-37). Moreover, most toilet areas do not have towels, soap or toilet paper, and the bathroom facilities are often filthy and in a state of disrepair. Obnoxious odors and excessive noise permeate the atmosphere at Pennhurst. Such conditions are not conducive to habilitation. (Dybwad, N.T. 7-52). Moreover, the noise level in the day rooms is often so high that many residents simply stop speaking. (Clements, N.T. 2-59). Injuries to residents by other residents, and through self-abuse, are common. For example, on January 8, 1975, one individual bit off three-quarters of the earlobe and part of the outer ear of another resident while the second resident was asleep. (Matthews, Deposition at 83). About this same period, one resident pushed a second to the floor, resulting in the death of the second resident. (Barton, Deposition at 67, 68). Such resident abuse of residents continues. In January, 1977 alone, there were 833 minor and 25 major injuries reported.(Youngberg, Deposition at 83). In addition, there is some staff abuse of residents. In 1976, one resident was raped by a staff person (Ruddick, N.T. 3-115 to 3-117); one resident was badly bruised when a staff person hit him with a set of keys (Barton, Deposition at 40); another resident was thrown several feet across a room by a staff person (Ruddick, N.T. 3-113; Caranfa, N.T. 12-79); and one resident was hit by a staff person with a shackle belt (Bowman, N.T. 13-83; Pirmann, N.T. 19-94). On each occasion, an investigation was conducted and the staff person responsible was suspended and/or terminated (Ruddick, N.T. 3-114; Bowman, N.T. 13-82, 13-83, 13-84; Pirmann, N.T. 19-94). Many of the residents have suffered physical deterioration and intellectual and behavioral regression during their residency at Pennhurst. Terri Lee Halderman, the original plaintiff in this action, was admitted to Pennhurst in 1966 when she was twelve years of age. During her eleven years at Pennhurst, as a result of attacks and accidents, she has lost several teeth and suffered a fractured jaw, fractured fingers, a fractured toe and numerous lacerations, cuts, scratches and bites. Prior to her admission to Pennhurst, Terri Lee could say "dadda", "mamma", "noynoy" (no), "baba" (goodby) and "nana" (grandmother). She no longer speaks. (Halderman, N.T. 9-69, 9-71, 9-78, 9-87, 9-88).Terri Lee Halderman's medical records contain a listing of over forty reported injuries.Plaintiff Charles DiNolfi was admitted to Pennhurst when he was nine years old; he is now forty-five and has resided at the institution continually except for short stays at White Haven State School and Hospital. (Hunsicker, N.T. 9-39). Dorothy Hunsicker, his sister, testified that whenever she or her family visited him, Mr. DiNolfi had some type of bandage on. (Id.) Twenty-six years ago, while at Pennhurst, Mr. DiNolfi lost an eye. A Pennhurst physician told Ms. Hunsicker that Mr. DiNolfi slipped while taking a shower, and hit the spigot with his eye. The sight in his remaining eye has been impaired due to injury. (Id., N.T. 9-46, 9-47). He has only a few teeth remaining and his nose has been battered. (Id., N.T. 9-41).Plaintiffs Robert and Theresa Sobetsky were admitted to Pennhurst on November 29, 1971. They were placed on extremely overcrowded wards where beds were placed in the aisles. Robert was never assigned to a particular bed. (Sobetsky, N.T. 9-145, 9-146). During his residency at Pennhurst, Robert Sobetsky suffered from bruises, bites, scratches, welts and he smelled of urine. (Id., N.T. 9-147, 9-148). His record shows a number of reported injuries, some of which, though labeled minor injuries, represented bruises that were three to five inches in length. (Id., 9-151, 9-152). Theresa also suffered such injuries. (Id., N.T. 9-148).Since January, 1976, they have been residing at Woodhaven, a Pennsylvania institution for the mentally retarded run by Temple University.Plaintiff Robert Hight, born in 1965, was admitted to Pennhurst in September, 1974. He was placed on a ward with forty-five other residents. His parents visited him two and one-half weeks after his admission and found that he was badly bruised, his mouth was cut, he was heavily drugged and did not recognize his mother. On this visit, the Hights observed twenty-five residents walking the ward naked, others were only partially dressed. During this short period of time, Robert had lost skills that he had possessed prior to his admission. The Hights promptly removed Robert from the institution, Mrs. Hight commenting that she "wouldn't leave a dog in conditions like that." (N.T. 11-22, 11-23). Plaintiff George Sorotos entered Pennhurst in 1970 at the age of seven. In the seven years that George has been at Pennhurst, his former foster mother, Marion Caranfa, testified that in her weekly visits to Pennhurst there have been only four occasions when George was not injured. (N.T. 12-63). During this period, he has suffered from numerous reported injuries, including bites, scratches, black eyes and loss of teeth. In addition, Mrs. Caranfa testified that she recently observed what appeared to be cigarette burns on George's chest. (N.T. 12-65). The Caranfas were made George Sorotos' foster parents when he was six weeks old. Sometime after he entered Pennhurst, the agency which had supervision over George removed them as his foster parents. They still consider him as one of their family and have continued their visits. (Caranfa, N.T. 12-62, 12-105). Plaintiffs Larry and Kenny Taylor entered Pennhurst on February 28, 1961. In the early 1970's, Mrs. Taylor questioned the staff about the medication being given to Larry. He was very lethargic, falling asleep at school and barely able to walk. (Taylor, N.T. 13-24). The physician in charge of Larry's unit, checked Larry's medical record and found that he was on dilantin, a drug used to control epileptic seizures. Mrs. Taylor testified that Larry had had only one seizure that she knew of and that had been when he was a baby. Larry was removed from dilantin and placed on mellaril, a psychotropic drug. This, too, made him lethargic. (Id., N.T. 13-26 to 13-28). Larry and Kenny were transferred to Woodhaven in 1975 where Mrs. Taylor testified that Larry does not receive any psychotropic medication, and is able to walk independently. (Id., N.T. 13-32). Larry was often injured while at Pennhurst; on one occasion, he was hospitalized for two weeks because of head and face injuries he received as a result of a beating by another resident. (Id., N.T. 13-30). Kenny, too, suffered serious injuries while at Pennhurst. (Id., 13-29). Plaintiff Nancy Beth Bowman entered Pennhurst at the age of ten in 1961. She was placed on a large ward which had sixty-five residents and often only two child-care aides in attendance. (Bowman, N.T. 13-71; Pirmann, N.T. 19-89). During her residency at Pennhurst she developed maladaptive behavior, i. e., biting and pushing. (Bowman, Id.) As a result of this maladaptive behavior she has been placed in seclusion for days at a time. (Id., N.T. 13-71). While at Pennhurst, she has lost teeth, been badly bruised and has been abused by the staff. (Id., N.T. 13-72, 13-73, 13-81). When asked about her present physical condition Nancy Beth's mother replied, "Nancy Beth will be scarred for the rest of her life." (Id., N.T. 13-94). Plaintiff Linda Taub, who is blind in addition to being retarded, was admitted to Pennhurst in 1966 at the age of fifteen. According to her father, during her nine year residency at Pennhurst Linda received only custodial care and she experienced regression rather than growth. (Taub, N.T. 2-170). Time on the ward was spent sitting and rocking, with few activities. (Id., N.T. 2-155). During one of their visits in 1968, Linda's parents found Linda, a person capable of walking, strapped to a wheelchair by a straightjacket. A staff member explained that by strapping her into the chair, they would know exactly where Linda was. (Id., N.T. 2-152, 2-153). While at the institution, Linda was badly bruised and scarred. (Id., N.T. 2-164).Approximately 21 of the 45 living units at Pennhurst are locked (Matthews, Deposition at 34) to prevent individuals from leaving their living units. (Uphold, Deposition at 139). Those individuals over the age of 18 who have been "voluntarily" admitted to Pennhurst are theoretically free to leave the institution at any time. (Allen, N.T. 21-185). Those admitted on the petition of their parents are informed by their caseworker when they reach the age of 18 that they do not have to remain at Pennhurst. If the residents state that they wish to leave the institution and the staff determines that there is no place for them in the community, or believes that the individuals are not ready to go into the community, the staff will petition the courts to have the individuals committed to the institution by a court. (Id., N.T. 21-186, 21-205). Furthermore those residents who either do not understand their alternatives, or are physically unable to indicate that they wish to leave Pennhurst, will be deemed to have consented to their continued placement at the institution. (Id., N.T. 21-210). Thus, the notion of voluntariness in connection with admission as well as in connection with the right to leave Pennhurst is an illusory concept. Few if any residents now have, nor did they have at the time of their admission, any adequate alternative to their institutionalization. As a practical matter, Pennhurst was and is their only alternative. Nearly all the parents of Pennhurst residents who testified stated that they placed their children in Pennhurst only as a last resort, and had there been community facilities or aid programs, their children would not have been placed at Pennhurst.

Pennhurst State School Building Identification Old Designation Building Number Building Name:

Superintendent's Residence #1 Superintendent's Residence, Dr. Wilton's Residence #2, Clothes Tree House #3 Clothes Tree House, Old Firehouse #6 Old Fire House, Snyder House #8, Maintenance Engineer Residence #9 Maintenance Engineer Residence, Trailer #1 - #12 Trailer #1, Trailer #2 - #13 Trailer #2, Trailer #3 - #14 Trailer #3, Trailer #4 - #15 Trailer #4, Trailer #5 - #16 Trailer #5, 800 Church Street, 17800 Church Street Modular #1 - 18 #1, Independence Drive Modular #2 - #19 #2, Independence Drive Modular #3 - #20 #3, Independence Drive Modular #4 - #21 #4, Independence Drive Modular #5 -#22 #5, Independence Drive Modular #6 -#23 #6, Independence Drive Modular #7 - #24 #7, Independence Drive Modular #8 - #25 #8, Independence Drive Modular #9 -#26 #9, Independence Drive Modular #10 - #27 #10, Independence Drive Barn at Farm Office #28 Barn at Farm Office, Farm Equipment Repair #29 Farm Equipment Repair, Corn Crib at Farm Office #30 Corn Crib at Farm Office, Open Shed at Farm Office #31 Open Shed at Farm Office, Farm Office #32 Farm Office, Well House #5 - #33 Well House #5, Well House #6 - #34 Well House #6, Chlorine/Flourination Bldg at Reservoir #35 Chlorine/Flourination Bldg at Reservoir, Water Tank #36 Water Tank, Reservoir #37 Reservoir, Well House #7 - #38 Well House #7, Well House #2 - #39 Well House #2, Well House #8 - #40 Well House, #8 Barn & Garage at Snyder House, 41Barn & Garage at Snyder House, Ground Cellar #42 Ground Cellar, Garage at Maintence Engineer's House #46 Garage at Maintence Engineer's House, Building E 47 Dietary Building Building, F 48 Franklin Building, G 49 Dietary Building, Building N 50 Nobel Power Plant, #51 Power Plant, Electric Sub Station 52 Electric Sub Station, Sewage Lift Station 53 Sewage Lift Station Building #5, #54 Aububon Hall Building, #4 55 Capital Hall Building, #1 56 Pershing Building, #2 57 Buchanan Building, #3 58 Keystone Hall, New Horizon's 59 Horizon Hall, Garage at Superintendent's Residence 60 Garage at Superintendent's Residence, Greenhouse #1 61 Greenhouse #1, Greenhouse #2 62 Greenhouse #2, Greenhouse #3 63 Greenhouse #3, Garage & Firehouse 64 Garage & Firehouse, Maintence & Storeroom 66 Maintence & Storeroom, Hose House 67 Hose House, Laundry 68 Laundry, 69 Chiller Building,

- Upper Campus - Building R 70 Rockwell Building, D 71 Devon Hall Building, V 72 Vincennes Building, U 73 Union Building, T 74 Tinicum Hall Building, Q 75 Quaker Hall, Building, M 76 Mayflower Hall Building, P 77 Philadelphia Building, A - Administration 78 Administration Building, Building L - Canteen, 79 Limerick Building, K 80 Demolished Building, I 81Industry Hall Building, H 82 Hershey Hall Hospital, 83 Hospital Disposal Plant, 84 Disposal Plant, Penn Hall 85 Penn Hall, Auditorium 86 Assembly, Blacksmith Shop 87 Blacksmith Shop, Garage at Residence #2

Map of building names and numbers


Flashlight Communication Experiment With The Spirits At Sachs Bridge In Gettysburg A Success!!

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on September 26, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Julie Susalla

Members of S.P.I.S Paranormal Investigative Society went to Gettysburg last night, September 24th, 2011, we had a wonderful time! We conducted an experiment with 2 flashlights having the spirits turn them on and off upon request in answers to our questions. Needless to say we were very happy and surprised when the spirits obliged us by doing so! Communication with them lasted for the entire night!

Co-existence In The Paranormal Community, & Learning To Ignore The Antics Of Non-Believer's

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on September 23, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Since I became a paranormal investigator almost 9 years ago, I've been noticing how much pettyness there is going on among some, and I say "some" paranormal groups. I don't understand what the problem is. I have seen members of a group complain about other paranormal groups, saying that "they don't get anything like we do."  or just being vindictive in their actions towards other groups or members of other paranormal groups. My question as a paranormal investigator is: "Why can't we all just get along and just support each other? We should be happy for the group that is lucky enough to "capture" evidence of the paranormal instead of tearing down their results and findings. We should also support each other and help each other!! Also, everyday I see how some paranormal investigators or psychics are "attacked" verbally by people who don't like them because of what they do, or their choice of lifetyle, and usually these verbal attacks are vicious and cruel.  If you don't believe in the possibility of spirits, ghosts or the paranormal, that's fine, some people just have closed their minds to that being possible, but PLEASE don't attack someone for what THEY believe in or for THEIR CHOICE OF LIFESTYLE!!! Everyone has a right to the persuit of happiness, what ever that means to them, even it means being a paranormal investigator, or their lifestyle choice!!! This is why we live in the U.S.A., the land of the free! I have also notced more and more lately how non-believers in the paranormal like to pull "pranks" on paranormal groups by calling them or emailing them to supposedly hire them to do an investigation but either giving them false information such as a false address for the location, or a real address but not one they have ownership of. The reason that I bring this up is, recently this has happened to S.P.I.S Paranormal Investigative Society and I would like to state that although the person or person involved think that this was or is funny, we (S.P.I.S) are not idiots, we check out every detail out when we get a call from someone claiming to have paranormal activity that gives us their information. We research and try to validate the information we are given. So although they may think this is funny which it is not, they only waste some of our time, and all of their efforts and end up looking like juvenile idiots!!  So in conclusion of this topic, we in the paranormal community need to accept the fact that there will always be the occasional "dumb ass" out there that will waste your time pulling their "practical joke" by "fake hiring" you and we need to file their information in the local tash bin because they're just not worth our time and energy!!  We also need to co-exist peacefully and support each other as paranormal investigators and paranormal groups.

Everyone has their own style of investigating, but......

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on January 18, 2011 at 5:00 PM

   I know that everyone has their own style of investigating but when you investigate as part of a team it is really important to be a team player! Each member of the team would like to have their chance to ask questions, to have some quiet time to listen for contact from the spirits, be it a disembodied voice, tapping, footsteps or anything else out of the ordinary. They also want to be able to just sit and observe their surroundings for shadow people, things moving by themselves, temperature changes etc. When one member of the team monopolizes the investigation by asking non-stop questions, refusing to let other members use their equipment because it may be caught on their video camera or refusing to let other members have a chance to ask a question, it  kind of ruins the investigation for everyone!

   Everyone on the team is equally important to the investigation and everyone should have a chance  to ask a question, take pictures, and use their equipment. The more equipment used to try and catch evidence of spirit activity, the better! The reason we write this is based on a recent experience. I know some may say it sounds like sour grapes but we look at it as passing on our experience and advice to others who are just getting into the field of paranormal investigation. Therefore, S.P.I.S Paranormal Investigative Society would like to share how we do an evp session with those who have never done one before. During our evp sessions we also take pictures with our digital camera's and use any of our other equipment. The following is a guideline on how we do an evp session.

1.) When getting ready to do an evp session it is best to find a safe place to set our digital recorder down once we have turned it on, this prevents noise contamination from holding it in our hand.

2.) After we have turned the digital recorder on, we state the date, time, location of the evp session, and our names. We proceed to ask the spirits for their name, or age, or the year etc. and then we wait at least 30 seconds or more before asking another question to give the spirits a chance to give a response. We take turns asking the questions and we try to be as respectful as possible when doing investigations and do not insult or call the spirits names because one, that's being disrespectful and two, we could attract a negative or angry spirit which is not what we want to do!

3.) During our evp sessions we always observe our surroundings for shadows/shadow people, apparitions, things moving on their own such as a door opening or shuting on it's own, a curtain moving when the window is shut, objects moving by themselves, our EMF meters going off, temperature change,disembodied voice etc. all of these could mean the presence of a spirit.

4.) If for some reason someone on the team coughs or sneezes or makes a noise during an evp session, mark it by saying that when it happens. This will help when reviewing later to know that it wasn't anything paranormal.

5.) We usually keep our evp sessions at about 3 minutes or a little more per session, it makes it easier  when we go to review.

6.)  When we get ready to end an evp session, we always, always say thank-you to the spirits for talking with us and sharing their space with us, this shows respect for them and they may talk to us and they may talk to us again in the future.

Well, I think this will help those who are just getting into paranormal investigation have good evp sessions! There is no one way to investigate, everyone has their own style of investigating. Just be a good team member and share the investigation with the other members on the team!

Getting Started

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on April 9, 2010 at 9:15 PM


   There are a lot of people out there who after watching shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventurers, Paranormal State, etc. think "I could do that... I will have a career as a paranormal investigator."  Let me clear something up for you-A career? First of all, Paranormal Investigation doesn't pay squat! In fact it is down right expensive. Think about it,  it takes money for gas to go to the investigation, batteries, video and audio tapes, cool shirts and jackets with your group's name on them, and let's not forget the equipment needed to do the investigations. So don't become a paranormal investigator expecting to get rich, because you won't. People become paranormal investigators because  they've had a paranormal experience, and have a passion for finding answers to the unknown.They love to investigate the paranormal. It's like an addiction.

   If you want to take up paranormal investigation as a hobby, then make sure you have a way to pay the bills, such as a job because it's going to take a lot of money.

   Now we'd like to talk about graveyards . It seems logical that ghosts would be found in graveyards , however people don't die in graveyards. Most people are dead for about 3 days before they are buried. We're not saying that graveyards are definitely not haunted, because there are some that are, we're just saying that if you think that because graveyards are full of dead people, then they must be full of ghosts, then think again. Most spirits of the dead who are buried in graveyards move on, not too many hang around in graveyards, I mean, if you were dead and decided that you didn't want to move on just yet, would you want to hang out in a graveyard or would you prefer to hangout where you use to live, work, or with your living family members? Hmmm, not a hard choice for us.

   Most of the time, it is illegal for anyone to be in a graveyard after dark, and just because there is no one living or working in a building, is it ok to trespass on private property without permission from the owner to do an investigation. So to avoid going to jail, we recommend  that you get permission from the owner of the property before you investigate any abandoned building. If you have to do some research to find out who owns the property, than so be it, do it!!

   Since graveyards are out, how do you get started? The best way is to find a friend or relative of someone in your group or of someone that you know who feels like they might have a haunting. This is ideal because you can practice your investigative techniques with out screwing up and upsetting a client. If this is not an option, then find another group in the area and see if they would be willing to let your group shadow them on a few investigations. If you do this, remember that this is their investigation and your group is only a fly on the wall!! Don't interfere!! If that is not an option, then look for a public place where trespassing is not an issue. Also, there are places that allow you to take a "Ghost Tour" for a nominal fee, this is a last resort however because you have to weed out all of the hokie pokie spookie nonsense but at least you can practice on your equipment.

   Yes I said equipment. And what equipment do you need? All you need to get started is a camcorder with night shot or infrared. An additional infrared illuminator that attaches to the top of your camcorder would be very helpful. A audio recorder of any kind will help too, although we use digital voice recorders instead of mini recorders as we find them to be much more clearer sounding on play back. If you buy a tape player, make sure you also buy an external microphone for it.

   A good camera that takes good pictures in dark conditions, although we use a digital camera because we don't have to worry about film development, we can download the media cards to our computers.

   Okay, how do you get your name out there? Do a fantastic job investigating!! If you are professional and down to earth, you're name will spread fast enough and you will build your reputation! Other than that, make a well though out, informative website, one that is professional and not one filled with creepy music, bloody graphics, or skulls flying at you. I mean if you are having a haunting and are already afraid, would you go to a website for help that has all that suff coming at you? I wouldn't!

   So use your common sense, don't' believe everything you hear, use your best judgement, based on your ideals, ideas, take everything reguarding a haunting with a grain of salt, make up your own mind and do all of us paranormal investigators proud!!!

Ghosts....Why are they here?

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on April 9, 2010 at 10:10 AM

What exactly is a ghost?


   Before you can understand what an entity consists of, you need to first understand a bit about the human body of a living person. Everything you do, see, hear, taste, feel controlled by electric impulses sent to your brain from your body's different parts, or from your brain to your different body parts.

   For example...right now you are reading this page, an electrical impulse is going from your eyes to your brain carrying the information your eyes are seeing. As you scroll down this page, your brain is sending electrical impulses to your hand to move your mouse etc.

   When a person dies, their individual systems shut down indepedently, since all the body's systems are controlled by electrical impulses the electricity has to go somewhere. It is a general law of physics that energy cannot be destroyed, so where does the energy go when your body shuts down? It is released into the atmosphere!

   When a person dies a slow or natural death, the energy is released more slowly and in a less concentrated state than if a person  were to die a sudden or violent death. There is a thought  that hospitals are not places of hauntings even though more deaths occur in them than anywhere else. People have asked "why are certain locations more likely to have a ghost than others?"  What it all boils down to is electromagnetic fields trapping the energy that is released at the time of death.

   For example...Everyone has heard of at least one haunted theater in the area they live.Theaters are huge electromagnetic fields, they have high voltage electrical systems in them to support sound and lighting equipment that is used for their shows. Theaters used to be very dangerous places at one time, it was very easy to have a lighting rig to fall on someone and kill them. It was also easy for someone to fall from a catwalk that is high above the stage. The ingredients were all there for a sudden and violent death. When that happened from time to time, the energy that was released from the victim's body was trapped by the much stronger electromagnetic field and now you have a ghost.

   One of the tools we use for paranormal research is an EMF meter. These meters are designed to measure changes in electromagnetic enegy. Many times while investigating a haunting, paranormal researchers have discovered very high levels of electromagnetic energy present. A lot of times this is caused by high votage electrical systems or by old wiring. Both will create an elctromagnetic field.

   There is a strong possibility that despite thoughts of other researchers, it is not the ghost that causes the electromagnetic energy, but the electromagnetic energy that causes the ghost. 

Top Ten Tips for Paranormal Investigation

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on April 8, 2010 at 8:20 PM

   1. Conduct A Preliminary Investigation And Analysis

Conducting a visit prior to your investigation will give you a better handle on what type of activity is going on.

   2. Always Carry Some Form Of Identification

It has been known, and is not uncommon, for paranormal investigators to be questioned by the police, villagers, and local authorities during their investigations. We also recommend that you have express permission, if needed, to conduct your investigation, and keep the documentation with you during your investigation.

   3. Conduct Your Investigation Between The Hours Of 10 pm And 5 am

This may seem like a bizarre tip, but it is recommended that you can conduct your investigation between these times due to the common facts that more ghosts are seen at night and most people die during their sleep.

   4. Never Wear Perfume Or Aftershave During Your Investigation

It is not uncommon for paranormal investigation groups to smell strange aromas during their investigations. By not wearing perfume or aftershave, you are eliminating the possibility of false evidence occurring.

   5. Always Respect Your Locations, And Of Course, The Dead

Paranormal Investigation teams that gain acess to haunted locations are very lucky. And it is always a good idea to be very respectful of the location. Please remember to clean up after yourselves, as it has been known for locations to ban further investigations because of the actions of some groups.

   It is also important to be respectful to the dead. "Ghost-baiting"-where you insult, swear, or use other profane laguage when addressing a spirit, or move objects that are revered in the location is becoming increasingly common as a way to communicate, and is not a preferred method of objective investigation.

   6. Remain Objective During Your Investigation

The basis of an objective investigation is to question all possible phenomena before you decide they are of a paranormal nature. This includes getting professionals to look at photographs and allowing different people to view the evidence. Only when there can be no other explanation for the phenomena can it be deemed paranormal.

   7. Be Aware Of The Amount Of Investigation That is Required

Paranormal Investigation is not only attending the investigation itself, but trudging through hour upon hour of locked-off

camera footage. On a normal investigation, you may get around 15 to 20 hours of footage and  every second of it has to be analyzed.

   8. Always Take More Batteries Than You Could Possibly Need

It has been known for objects used during a paranormal investigation to cease to function during the investigation itself. The common school of thought on this topic is that if there are any spirits present, that they drain the power sources available in order to try to respond to any questions you may ask. However; this does not discount faulty batteries.

   9. Glow Sticks, Glow Sticks, Glow Sticks

If you do reach a situation where your batteries have died, and you are left with no light-then it is recommended that you have a few glow sticks with you. These are chemical-based light sources and cannot be drained of power.

   10. Always Be Polite-This Goes For Ghosts, Too!!

Manners cost nothing. If the proprietor of a venue has allowed you acess to a location, then it is a great idea to write a letter of thanks, and also allow them the opportunity to sit in on your investigation. It is highly recommended that you thank the spirits attwmpting to communicate with you.

Top Ten Mistakes in Paranormal Investigation

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on April 8, 2010 at 4:35 PM

   1. Being Rude

Not thanking the owner or manager is a bad thing to do and could have an unhappy outcome on your investigation and possible future investigations let alone your reputation. Always remember to thank everyone involved!!!!

   2. Not Applying A Cultural Context To The Possibility Of A Ghost

When researching the spirit activity at a location, make thorough notes of the time period in which they were alive. This will ensure better communication with the spirit.

   3. Not doing Research

It is strongly recommended that you conduct research into the location, as you may discover more than you bargained for. This ties directly into point two.

   4. Assuming Everything Is Paranormal

Only when no other explanation for the phenomena can be given can evidence be presented as proof of paranormal activity.

   5.Just Watching The Video Footage, But Not Listening 

It is highly recommended that you watch each video of  your paranormal investigation a number of times, as you may pick up something more on the second, third, or even a fourth time you watch it.

   6. Having Teams Made Up Of A Single Sex

By having an all male or all female team, you could miss out on the opportunity to capture phenomena at work.

   7. Taking Everything Too Seriously

Investigating the paranormal can be difficult  and unrewarding affair.You can quickly lose focus and miss evidence. By taking breaks or a "breather" and relaxing with yor team members, you will allow yourself to calm down and approach different areas of your location with a refeshed mind and attitude.

   8   Reusing Cassettes.

Never reuse audio or video cassetts if  you have used them during an investigation. This may make the prospect of investigating the paranormal more expensive, but buy doing this, you eliminate the chances of evidence being just the result of sounds or images existing on a reused tape. We recommend using DVD camcorders, or those that record direct to flash cards. These can be wiped and formatted, and you eliminate any possibility of the above. 

   9.   Not Listening To Suggestions Of  Your Team Members And Proprietors

Just because you cannot explain the phenomena you are catching, doesn't mean somebody else cannot. Be open to other points of view from your group and also those of the venue's owners-after all they know the location better than anybody.

   10. Going to locations Alone

Never, never, never attend an investigation alone. It has been kown for people to lie in wait for paranormal investigators, as you will invariably be carrying a lot of expensive equipment that can easily be sold. Let people know where you will be, and keep a cell phone with you at all times-nothing is worth more than your personal safety!

"Bring Extra Batteries"

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on April 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM

   Sounds simple doesn't it? Ask any experienced paranormal investigator what's the first thing that you should bring on an investigation and they will tell you .....batteries!!! Always bring extra batteries. Your proably asking why extra batteries? Well an interesting thing happens when you're looking for spirits, spirits need a lot of energy to manifest or make themselves known either through sight, sound or touch. They can't make this energy and they need to gather it from somewhere in order to get your attention, so they steal energy from the batteries in your equipment. In fact they also can steal it from you, ever wonder why after an intense night of investigating you feel tired and drained? It's because spirits steal your energy just like they do  from your batteries.

   So here you are, investigating and your batteries in your camera suddenly drain, and then the ones in your digital voice recorder die, and finally the ones in your flashlight, if you use one. You're asking "whats going on, these are new batteries?" It's not the batteries, it's the spirit's draining your batteries. So it is always better to think ahead and bring extra batteries on an investigation. Remember, if you're planning on documenting any proof, your camera is worthless as soon as the batteries die.

"Keeping Your Emotions in Check while Investigating"

Posted by Serious Paranormal Investigative Society on April 8, 2010 at 11:20 AM

   When doing a paranormal investigation, you may feel very scared, very excited, or very bored. No investigation will produce the same results because each place that you investigate is different and each has it's own level of activity. That being said, a person's feelings can directly affect the outcome of an investigation, this is why we strongly suggest that all team members or investigators always keep their emotions in check. Sometimes unsual emotions can come out without any realization of the party involved. Sometimes they can be directly due to the nature of the investigation or to the nature of the entity involved.

   Sometimes an investigation can be very slow going with little or no activity at all. An investigator can develope a negative attitude about being so bored and the excessive complaining about the lack of activity can put a damper on the rest of the group, making everyone irritable and annoyed. The result can be horrible. There are times when investigations require a lot of "patience and no action", and if an investigator can not handle  the slow times they really have no business being a paranormal investigator.

   Panic is another emotion that needs to be kept in check. Everyone gets scared and that's okay, but to panic and lose control of your emotions by running, yelling and screaming  is one, unprofessional, and two, can damper or scare away any activity that may be happening. The reaction to fear is what is important, the worst thing that you can do is to let out a blood curdling scream in a suburban neighborhood in the middle of the night. It's highly inappropriate at any time and if you are that afraid of ghosts, then why are you looking for them? Just imagine the reaction of the neighbors if they heard a blood curdling scream in the middle of the night. Try explaining that to the police when they arrive,  that the scream came from a paranormal investigator on an investigation, talk about embarrassing!

   Finally, sometimes a haunted area will produce unusual feelings simply due to the entity. Sometimes, highly sensitive people can experience unusual feelings just being in a haunted area. These people can burst out crying for no apparent reason, become very sad and depressed or burst into rage without explanation. Upon leaving a haunted area these feelings may tag along for a while, this is always why before an investigator begins an investigation,  they need to ground themselves and ask the angels to surround them with a white light  and ask them to protect them from any negative energies.

   Some professionals will say that our immune system is directly tied in with our emotions so it's altogether possible that a bad attitude can bring on a cold or the flu. A positive attitude is most important in a paranormal investigation and if a team member is feeling any negative energies or feelings, they should let the team leader know about it.  The best way to deal with this is to get a "pep talk" or take a breather and change your location in order to feel right again. Remember, if you don't feel like yourself, there may be a "paranormal" reason.


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