Originally called the Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, the patients separated by their IQ level, categorized into three main groups: Morons (59-69), Imbeciles (20-49), and Idiots (below 20). These medical terms fell out of favor before they became part of our common slang.
Reports of abuse by staff and other patients and extended periods of isolation were uncovered and the institution was eventually found guilty of violating patient’s constitutional rights in a class action lawsuit in 1977.
Since that time the site has become a veteran's home, an armory for the Pennsylvania state National Guard, and some years after its abandonment in 1987, a haunted house attraction.
Currently, the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance has been working to maintain the hospital as a cultural and educational tool.
"Memory is the critical language and terrain of human rights. Through preserving past evidence of neglect, we make it real, we make it present, and we make it public. The place that bears the mark of the painful past becomes a powerful catalyst for awareness, action, relevance, inspiration, and investment in multiple senses." - PMPA
Thanks to Opacity for this information and their beautiful collection of abandoned photography
Learn more at El Peecho's Pennhurst Site