Haunted Houses in Pennsylvania are some of the scariest in America and according to a few Haunt Stalkers Pennhurst Asylum in Philadelphia is one of the best. What makes this location stand out is its twisted and terrifying real-life history of horrors that the residents were once subjected to. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that these horrors occurred as recently as the late 80’s. Now, every fall , haunt designers come in and take over the asylum converting it into a playground of ghost stories and homicidal maniacs.
The Legend of Pennhurst Asylum
Pennhurst State School opened in 1908 and flourished for almost 60 years until allegations of mistreatment of residents surfaced. Over the next decade, these allegations were proven to be true and by 1986 the entire complex was abandoned, and left to rot. As nature began to reclaim the property, an effort was launched to see if there was any feasible use for these buildings. Nothing was found until now…
Nestled in the mountains of Eastern Austria lies the town of Neustadt, a small hamlet that is renowned for its medical research facilities. Dr. Heinrich Chakajian was one of the leading physicians at the premier Neustadt Center for Cranial Research and was a psycho surgical genius. Over the years Dr Chakajian performed hundreds of operations on patients with brain injuries and diseases. But what few people know, the good doctor also conducted radical experiments in his secret laboratory, located 30 miles west in the city of Loeben. His surgical experiments began with the corpses of people who had donated their bodies to science. However, Dr Chakajian realized that he needed live humans to further his experimental surgery, and discover the cure for brain ailments. His staff quietly made suggestions to Eastern European prisons in search of live patients to work on. The prison wardens were happy to release the worst of their inmates into the hands of Dr Chakajian with the agreement that they would never be released back into society. Convicted murderers, rapists, and sociopaths streamed into the gated complex and were secured in stone cells that lie beneath the laboratory. And so began two decades of radical experimentation with untried drugs, new procedures and open brain surgery.
Over the years, several problems began to arise; word was getting out about the unorthodox experiments that often resulted in intense psychotic deterioration of the patient and in many cases even death. The cells were filling up with people whose experimental surgery had gone terribly wrong. With the Austrian government and the European Medical Association closing in on the rumors of horrible experimentation going on at his lab, Dr Chakajian began a global search for a secure location to hide the worst of his experimental failures. After months of research, he came across a deteriorated complex in Southeastern Pennsylvania, just outside of the town of Spring City. The once majestic campus of Pennhurst State School, having fallen into ruins and almost destroyed by vandals, appeared to be the perfect location to house the victims. After purchasing the property from the State, Dr Chakajian began a program of restoration of some of the buildings in hopes of secretly moving his problems out of Loeben and across the Atlantic to Pennsylvania. Roofs were mended, windows replaced, asbestos and lead paint were abated and the building began to take shape. Soon, the former criminal monsters of Eastern Europe, now tragically altered by radical experiments began to flow into Pennhurst. With a strong security force and hospital staff in place, the experimentation continued. Electro-convulsive shock therapy is routinely conducted on the first floor, in room 29B. Psycho surgery is performed on level two, in the well equipped operating room. Other experiments include body suspension, light deprivation, and intense drug therapy.
For several years Pennhurst was alive again with activity but no one knew what was going on behind the walls and under the complex. One night Dr. Chakajian was killed along with several patients when a fire broke out on the second floor of the Administration building. In the ensuing chaos, the inmates mounted an escape and many of the staff were killed in the processes. Some of the patients escaped never to be seen again. The patients that didn’t escape were locked in cells deep under pennhurst and left to die by the staff that survived the bloody uprising. With Chakajian dead the buildings once again were abandoned. Its believed that some of the escaped inmates returned to Pennhurst and are living inside, waiting for explorers to enter the abandoned complex. Its said that the ghosts of Dr. Chakajian, his staff and inmates are still there too, continuing their experiments and as the number of missing people in the area would attest, the good Doctor is always looking for new test subjects.
The Pennhurst Asylum – a hospital themed walk thru attraction featuring many items and artifacts that were part of the original State School. Located on the upper floors of the old Administration building, which dates to 1908, this attraction features a combination of high tech animatronics, digital sound and motivated actors, as well as fine detail and realism.
The Tunnel Terror – The Tunnel Terror attraction takes you through a 900 foot long gauntlet underneath the grounds of the old State School, first named Pennhurst Home for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic. Upgraded with amazing catacombs, new sets and scares, this attraction is guaranteed to produce screams.
The Dungeon of Lost Souls – Features a labyrinth of old cells, drafty halls and a series of human experiments that have gone horribly wrong. This show includes CGI special effects, illusions, great detail and amazing actors.
Ghost Hunt – The final attraction, called Ghost Hunt, is a self guided tour of the Mayflower Building, reportedly the most active of all the locations on the campus, and featured on Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. Armed with only a flashlight, visitors are allowed to wander through the dormitory, left just as it was 26 years ago, and search for spirits on their own.