Torrance State Hospital

Torrance State Hospital - Photo

Located about 45 miles east of Pittsburgh, off an exit of Route 22, is the remnants of the haunted Torrance State Hospital. The mental facility opened to patients on November 25, 1919, as the Western State Hospital for the Insane. In 1923, the hospital became known as Torrance State Hospital.

For its time, Torrance was a modern facility and practiced up-to-date medical methods for treating mental disorders. Bear in mind, however, that treating mental illness was still quite barbaric and in relative immaturity as a medical field.

Lobotomies were regularly performed, rendering the patient, in many cases, vegetative. And, of course, the horrors of shock treatments undoubtedly unleashed anguished energies into this area.


The Barbarism of Progressive Treatment

The hospital was ahead of its time, breaking from the traditional configuration of contemporary mental facilities. Most asylums were built to function as part of the confined Kirkbride system, a treatment plan where the very architecture of a hospital was believed to help the patient rehabilitate.

On the other hand, Torrance was built as part of the Cottage Plan, which derived from a Victorian convention where multiple institutional buildings with long, rambling wings formed a campus-like setting. Housing and treatment were done under one roof.

Following this plan, Torrance also incorporated farmlands to treat its patients. Torrance was a self-contained community, isolated from the nearest town by miles. Work was considered an essential part of therapy. The patients planted and harvested their own crops in the massive fields that encircled the hospital grounds.

Animals were raised and slaughtered on site. Torrance boasted a large piggery, a cannery, and its own laundry. Horses were kept and cared for as necessary transportation to pull the carts and haul the wagons. This self-sufficiency was needed– in the 1950s through the 60s, the inpatient population was over 3,300!

Nature was also seen as a necessary form of therapy. This was a readily available rehabilitation with its secluded setting and rural environment. The admitted were allowed to walk the grounds, which had tree-lined lanes and wooded groves. And it seems as if this form of therapy continues even after death.


The Dead Take Over


Spirits are still witnessed walking the grounds, either out of residual habit or intelligent intent. However, invading their space or interfering with their strolls is not wise. Cars have been known to stall when approaching an apparition, and sometimes mischievous pranks are carried out by unseen hands, such as turning windshield wipers backward. As inviting as it may seem to join these spirits in their walk, it is better to let them go about on their own.

In 1953, tuberculosis patients were next admitted to the Graff Building. Death was a daily occurrence during this epidemic. All the pain and agony, congealing into a dark energy, seems to have embedded itself into this hospital building. Perhaps this is why this particular site is supposedly the most haunted of all the buildings on the Torrance campus.

Ghost hunters bold enough to ignore the genuine possibility of a criminal trespass charge have reported the unnerving presence of a little girl at this site. Most of the time, she makes herself known only through faint laughter, but on occasion, some intrepid teams have had terrifying encounters with the spirit.

Sometimes she can be seen leering from the broken glass of one of the windows in the Renner building, watching as people walk down the dirt road that leads to the building. It has been reported that she will tap on windows. Once inside, the apparition manifested to some eyewitnesses and motioned them to follow her.

She attempts to lead them into a room where the floor has caved in. If her attempts to lure you are refused, she smiles an evil grin and disappears. Some psychics feel that she is not actually the spirit of a deceased little girl but rather a demonic entity that has taken on the form of a little girl to lure trespassers into who knows what!

If you find yourself in an abandoned mental facility in the dead of night and a little girl in a tidy little dress materializes out of thin air and asks you to follow her, it is a good bet that you should leave. Immediately!


A Myriad of Ghosts

But these are not the only places on Torrance State Hospital’s campus that have reported ghostly activity.

The Grand Administration Building

The Grand Administration Building, the scene of four decades of kinetic hospital activity, can store some of it within its walls. Loud noises and the incomprehensible sounds of distant conversations have been widely reported.

Elevators have even been known to open at will, with doors slamming throughout the empty building. Witnesses have said it was as if you stepped into a fully operating facility, with all the buzz of activity around you.

The only difference is that the building was completely empty! Orbs have been photographed in this building, a possible glimpse at the otherworldly energy still occupying this space.

The Boiler House

The Boiler House, with its imposing brick smoke stack, has reports of silvery shadows whisking like spectral fog moving throughout the building’s bowels. The echoing sounds of men working, heavy hammers pounding on metal, and the harsh scraping of steel on cold stone have been heard on numerous occasions. It is as if all the residual energies associated with the construction and maintenance of this structure continue even to this day.

The Diefert Building

The Diefert Building was once the residence hall where many patients had lived through the years. Now it is abandoned. However, at least one resident still resides in her old room at the end of the hall. Even before it closed its doors, nurses reported seeing the ghost of an older woman who had died years earlier walking the halls of this building.

There was nothing terrifying about her presence, all reports indicate, just a startling jolt of seeing a transparent woman moving past your desk at 3 in the morning. Sometimes the sound of her rocking chair was heard in the dead of night, coming from behind the door of a vacant room where the woman once lived. When the noise was investigated, nothing was discovered.

The other buildings stand empty and slowly rotting, the history of this facility crumbling every day. The majority of the hospital began closing in the late 1960s, and now the campus stands testament to the medical procedures of the past. Most buildings are sealed off from any prying eyes brave enough to trespass on the hospital’s grounds. It seems as if Torrance has any more secrets or ghosts, and they are kept well hidden.