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Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Pennhurst's story echoes that of many of the asylums and institutions. Built in 1908 with high hopes and a sprawling campus that had everything a community could need - including a barber shop, a greenhouse, a fire station, a movie theater, and a general store - Pennhurst rapidly devolved into a site synonymous with well documented overcrowding and neglect that caused the adults and children who resided there to regress further and further from functionality. In 1968 a disturbing documentary featuring the site titled 'Suffer the Little Children' was produced wherein a visibly distraught reporter chronicled abysmal conditions including one interview where a doctor openly admitted to giving a bully among the residents the most painful injection he could concoct to deter him from abusing others. Ultimately it was closed in 1986 amid a storm of charges of physical and sexual abuse, improper restraint and seclusion, corruption, mismanagement, and neglect.

For an opportunity to join a day photography workshop at Pennhurst which includes access to the Mayflower and Devon buildings and access to the grounds, click here. For the night photography workshop click here.

Photographs and text by Matthew Christopher. For more images click the thumbnails below.