Share your Pennhurst Memories

Pennhurst has affected the lives of many people in many ways.  If you have a Pennhurst story or memory that you would like to share, please click the Add A Comment link below and post your story.  You may include up to 2 images.

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Adrienne Eiss10/30/2022
When I and my older sister were 4 and 5 years old our mother became ill and we stayed at Pennhurst for a few months the summer of 1956. Our father came to get us after our mother recovered. So looking back, Pennhurst probably took private payment to house children temporarily. I remember seeing school classes and being jealous because we were too young to go. We slept in a dormitory with rows of beds and ate in a large dining hall. While we were there a measles outbreak swept through the children and we both got sick. The caretakers were strict but I don't have any bad memories of abuse. Of course we were probably a special case, because somebody was returning to get us. I have a 32-page pdf of a 1954 brochure describing the operation of Pennhurst with photographs of each of 24 departments, but there's no way to post that here.
Diane Getz02/08/2022
My third cousin Charles Kenneth Getz was placed at Pennhurst at 4 and a half almost 5 and died before he was 14. He was born with water on the brain. On his death certificate he is referred to as an idiot. He died from Bronchopneumonia most likely from the ice bath treatments and other horrible things. I was born in 1981 with the same thing. It sickens me they put on a haunted house. My cousins hells and the thousands of others who lived and died there is not something to be made fun or an attraction made out of.
My Grandma worked at Pennhurst in the 50s. She described it as People piled like firewood. Not long after she and my Grandpa met they moved to the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. Given where she worked, and that my Grandfather was a US Constable in World War II, I have to wonder if what they did factored into where they decided to live. She passed this past December, and even if she was around for me to ask about her time working there, I doubt she would.
Janne Glewwe Ruffini06/09/2021
Back in the late 1980s I got to know a lovely lady named Jane Smith, Jane had been released from Pennhurst to live in a Group home in Downingtown which was home to 8 ladies who had come from various environments - all were considered to be, in the vernacular of the time, Mentally Retarded. All of the ladies were pretty bright, really. Jane was interesting per her telling, she and her younger brother had been dropped off at Pennhurst as children wearing very nice clothing. Their parents were no longer able to care for them. Jane never learned to read or write at Pennhurst, but had very fond memories of her life there. She was very pretty, and was soon warned by the female staff to stay away from the mens, as she put it. Jane was capable, and worked the nursery, caring for the babies who were born at Pennhurst. She lost track of her brother. I do think that Jane, and her brother ended up there due to circumstances to do with the depression. She missed PH, but adjusted well.
My Uncle was administered to Pennhurst in 1952 at the age of 8. From the day he was admitted to the day he died, he lasted 6 days. He went in with a mental disability, but otherwise a healthy 8 year old. His death cert, done by a Pennhurst physician, says he died of a Cardiac problem and mental deficiency. He was 8 and healthy. My Grandfather said when they got him his body had bruises all over it. Pennhurst covered up a murder. I hope they all rot in hell. RIP Robert Anderson, 9/15/1952
Hope bruzgulis02/12/2021
My grandmother had a step sister who was taken to Pennhurst sometime in the 1950's when she was just a child. Her name was Rosie Ruschak and I am just trying to find out what happened to her so my grandma can have some peace. No one has heard from her since she was taken there.
Lisa Grossbauer01/19/2021
My Uncle Nicholas Rinaldi was born in 1922 and died in 1941 in Pennhurst. He was my deceased father's older brother. I am just beginning to look for information about him. I am so saddened that no one has any information about him. Can anyone provide me with information on how to begin collecting information on him?
My mom worked for Hope and they had some of the residents after Pennhurst closed. The woman she knew was Anna Salvador. I never met her but mom told me about the last days of her life. She was happy at hope and because of her life in Pennhurst her hope home was rebuilt into an amazing home for others. Her last few days she went back mentally to Pennhurst and my mom comforted her the best she could because it was a dark place for her. She was buried with her parents at Wildwood Cemetery in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. I just want people to see that she is still loved and that she made it home safe to her parents.
Helen Y.09/17/2020
My Uncle Joseph/Joe Walker was born in 1929 and was placed in Penhurst when he was a teenager. He ended up dying in there in his early/mid 40's. My parents knew nothing as far as cause of death. Does anyone know where I can obtain a copy of his Death Certificate? Thank you in advance!
Angie White09/15/2020
I have now found two Great Uncles of mine who spent decades at PennHurst. I would love to find more information on the Rinehart Brothers 1920 to 1976. Anyone know of a way to find old documents? One uncle died inside and one maybe was released before it closed. Thanks.

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