Pennhurst Round 2

I took another trip to the Pennhurst School – a residential facility for children with disabilities that closed in 1987. The media had reported repeated instances of abuse and neglect, and the school did not keep up with advances in the treatment of mental disorders and differences. Most of the buildings and grounds of this immense facility are off limits. Here are a few images captured in the two buildings that are still open on occasion:

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More Images from the Children’s Home

Shooting and working on these photographs was a somber process. While in the buildings I was struck by the presence of the past; it was as if the patients were still there in spirit, looking over my shoulder and protecting themselves and the space. I was careful not to disturb anything – as careful as one would be in a friend’s home. There were toys and dolls around each corner – it’s likely many of these were props used by other photographers – but, still, I left them just so. Processing the images was a journey in itself. There were some surprises and some unexpected finds. I hope that my reverence for what these images represent shows through. They aren’t meant to exploit, but to pay homage.

Tweety Bird
After the Fire
The Showers
Happy and Luke
The Crib Room


What’s Left Behind

This was a school and home for children with disabilities. The institution closed in the late 1980’s, and in its sixty-two years thousands of children with myriad diagnoses were housed in the wards of several buildings that made up the campus. The institution was self-contained, with recreational facilities, play areas, gardens and greenhouses and treatment rooms. I was allowed access to two buildings and these are some of the images created.