Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordful Wednesday | The Western Center

This weekend we traveled to the outskirts of Pittsburgh for our girls' gymnastics State competition. The meet itself was held in Washington, PA. We spent two nights in a hotel in Canonsburg, PA. It was a beautiful hotel built on a hill in a developing business area. As we were driving up toward the hotel, a rather large complex of old brick buildings caught my eye. I pointed them out to the girls and my husband and immediately we all began to speculate about their origin and purpose. They looked old, and we all agreed a bit eery. Our interest was piqued. What was this complex of old brick buildings sitting alone at the top of this hill? We all seemed to come to the same conclusion, it must be some condemned, decaying mental hospital. 

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On walking into the hotel, we asked the hotel staff about the buildings. They informed us that it was indeed an old mental institution and that there are those who believe it is haunted. In fact, we were told the television show "Ghost Adventurers" traveled here and filmed a segment on it. We didn't believe her at first, but we googled it and found a lot of information as well as "ghost stories" about this establishment. I must state, we do not believe in ghosts, but even prior to learning this information, knowing we were right, gave us an uncanny feeling.

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Of course, we were curious and wanted to get a closer look. 
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The cloudy skies coupled with the old barren trees and branches broken on the ground added to the creepiness surrounding these old buildings.
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As we neared the buildings, we noticed doors were open. We learned people were in there working. These buildings are all that are left. Originally, there were 37 buildings on 304 acres. This facility was a place of treatment for mentally ill individuals, however, as I read more about this facility, I found there are horrendous accounts of isolation, neglect, accounts of experimental drug therapy, poor treatment of both residents and faculty and even rape. Prior to housing the mentally ill, this campus was a reform center for delinquent boys. It was called the Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza. Sadly, there is also a small cemetery on this property with 35 headstones, all young boys who died while at this facility.Photobucket

The Southpointe development, the new development where we were staying, is required to "maintain the cemetery containing about 35 graves of children who lived and died at the reform school known as Morganza. The cemetery, surrounded by a white picket fence, occupies a knoll outside Holly Cottage at the edge of the 200-plus-acre Southpointe II tract. The gravestones, which are level with the ground, are made of concrete. Flat aluminum rectangles top the stones. Thirty-three of them bear the names of the deceased and the message "Rest in Peace." There are crosses on the metal plates, but no dates."   -http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/05Morganza.htmlPhotobucket

All the buildings have been demolished on this campus except for the buildings in my photos. Apparently these were the historic Administration buildings. These are to be kept intact and restored to function as a future cultural center.
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I found plenty of "ghost hunters" on the internet who have visited this site.  There is also a plethora of video clips on YouTube of people documenting noises and such inside these buildings. If nothing else, it makes for interesting reading and viewing.Photobucket
One more interesting fact I learned ... "The exterior of the administration building can easily be recognized as the Baltimore State Forensic Hospital in the film Silence of the Lambs (1991)." -//www.opacity.us/site108_western_center.htm
(We have never seen the movie, but with what we've heard about it, it seems rather fitting that this place was used in the filming of it). 
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I took this last photo (above) on our way out of the development. This was apparently the old bridge and entrance to the campus. I was not able to photograph it, but the cement pillars read, "Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza". 


A last interesting tidbit ... after we left Canonsburg, we drove into Pittsburgh for breakfast. Circled at the bottom of our bill, probably the waitress' initials, were the letters RIP. Weird, right?!  ha ha


Hope I haven't creeped you out too much!! Our family enjoys traveling and we just found this all very interesting and I thought I'd share it. :D 

-tish xoxo

and then, she {snapped}Live and Love...Out Loud








6 comments:

  1. wow, eerie is the word. and the bill?! yikes! :) very interesting. glad for the Hope we have, right?

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  2. I agree with Abigail. Eerie is all that came to mind as I read. I literally have goosebumps. Not sure what I think about ghosts and such, but that place just looks creepy! And then all those gravestones for young boys? So sad.. Definitely an interesting place I'd have to explore as well.

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  3. Sounds like an interesting and certainly eerie experience. I do love that photo of the branches against the sky. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Very haunting. The carcass in the "Silence of the Lambs" shot added to the eeriness. RIP indeed!

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  5. What an interesting find! So eerie and how funny about your bill! Makes for a great post! Your photos are fabulous ;)

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