Posts Tagged ‘Bill Baldini’

It was originally known as the Eastern State Institution for the feeble-minded and epileptic, it closed 9th December 1987 after a decade of controversy. From 1903- 1908 the original buildings were constructed, there were further additions to the site in 1919, 1921 and 1929. It didn’t stop there either, more were contributed in the 1960’s and again in 1971.

23rd November, 1908, they admitted patient 1 and within four years it was overcrowded and pressured. The patients would be classified, and the status of admitted children would be seen as abhorrent these days. They ranged from the mute, blind, epileptic to deformity, offensive habits and more. Yet somehow they also for the patients into making mattresses, shoes, farming, laundry and other trades.

There were other assumptions, one of them was the Chief Physician (and eugenicist) thought that all of those of feeble mind were potential criminals.

In 1968 a CBS10 correspondent Bill Baldini anchored a five part exposé about the poor conditions. In 1983 there were nine employees on charges of patient abuse and finally the Halderman Case details the wide-spread abuse and finally resulted in its closure.

Halderman was a resident who upon her release filed suit in the federal district court. It had started when she visited her parents and had unexplained bruises, it led to the courts finding that Pennhurst was unsanitary, inhumane, dangerous and violating the fourteenth amendment (an easy summary being an Equal Protection Clause), and essentially the patients rights had been abused.

It has since been through various attempts at reincarnation for use. Now the administration building has been partially renovated and opened as the Pennhurst Asylum haunted house. It attracts quite an interest but those formerly affiliated with the place seem to find this disrespectful and controversy about it remains. Former patients, I presume from some feedback, find the tourism and sensational way it is handled as somewhat akin to a slap in the face.

Pennhurst has attracted its fair share of TV coverage, with shows like Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters (TAPS) and Haunted History in the name.

Reports on the paranormal side involve partial and full-bodied apparitions, the noises of screaming and piano playing. Along with various reports of this, those interested in the exposure of the place will find Suffer the Little Children both interesting but at the same time it can be a quite disturbing watch.

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