SCORE: ☆☆ (2.25)
Sometimes I find there are some really creepy places in the world that you never even knew existed until someone brings your attention to it, like the Eastern State Penitentiary located in Philadelphia, PA. When Ron showed me images of this place and read me the story of it’s history, I KNEW I had to check this out for myself.
Built in 1829 it had a unique reform system that was based on extensive solitary confinement for the purpose of quiet introspection, reflection on their crimes, and time for prayer. A chance to make amends to their maker, as well as repent for their sins. I do believe the original creators of this place had a spiritual design in mind for the prisoners who would be brought here. However, after what I saw, I had feared it would lead more to madness than rehabilitation.
As we weaved our way through the back streets of Philly towards the prison, we saw flocks of people gathering everywhere. It hadn’t dawned on us that we chose to go on Bastille Day and the crowds were a massing outside the prison walls for a concert in the street.
Fortunately for us, myself, Ron, and our very dear friends Jane and Rob, the crowds weren’t overly interested in the tour.
I was excited. This stone age looking monolith that jutted up in the middle of a seemingly quiet neighborhood was tall, ominous and just as I had expected. We gathered just on the other side of the underground gift shop and joined our tour of about 20 people out in the courtyard. I was a little disappointed to see that there were many tours ahead of us, probably 2 or even 3 groups touring the grounds within minutes of us. Another group already accumulating behind us. A somewhat distracting scenario for a “Sensitive” such as myself, but I was still excited to move.
It was bright daylight and quite warm actually, though, as soon as we entered the cell block, the temperature dropped. The sights, sounds and textures of this building are extraordinary…the clear history of the men who walked these halls scarred the very walls we passed quietly by. We were shown one of the cells that a prisoner would have been in, with only the small window in the roof as a single source of light known as the “Eye of God” to illuminate these unyielding walls. Empathically, my heart was heavy as I felt somewhat stifled staring too long inside.
It was hard to pinpoint any one particular energy or “vibe” as there were so many living people around, but one particular room to the left, just before entering the main connector where Al Capone’s cell was, was a touch different. It was very small, not a cell at all I don’t think, but almost like a pantry as it had the skeletal remains of old wooden cabinets with doors drooping open. I “felt”, more than saw I suppose, a mans face looking at me from a distance, as if from deep inside the cabinet…though I could not get any kind of clear image. I thought I had captured a glimpse of the face on my camera as I took several shots into the room, but alas, nothing overly clear.
I breezed by Al Capone’s “suite” of a cell and went down a less occupied branch of the prison. Still nothing, I even sat for a bit and tried to walk in or near other cells. I rejoined Rob, Jane and Ron to investigate outdoors…still nothing. The tour continued full of history and absolutely eye catching images that were full of hope and potential for activity, but there just wasn’t anything really there that I could feel. Don’t get me wrong, I was NOT disappointed, I don’t like to see Souls or Energies stuck in a location or caught in a loop of time.
We wandered the grounds, inside, outside, even one basement area. There were several barred areas we could not go into that somewhat seemed more appealing to me, but not worth getting thrown out for to investigate.
There was one cell full of an an artist's display that I found to be very moving, and a place I may have stayed just a little longer if the tour would had permitted. It had several hand drawn sketches in black and white of victims of the prisoners who were housed there back in it’s operational days. Men, women, even children…young, old…all walks of life. People murdered for various innocuous reasons, mindlessly and selfishly stripped away from this life we share and those who loved them. It was sobering, and dampened the sound of the bands on the other side of the prison walls celebrating freedom in the streets, which was an irony all it’s own.
Yet, I knew I was still missing something, and kept waiting to see the “kitchen" of all places for some reason. There was this nagging sensation to see the building just left of the (or maybe right) of the surgical room we were allowed to tour. Finally I asked the Guide what was in the wing we weren’t going to, he told me it was the hospital/recovery room, dining area for some and kitchen areas. Ah ha! The kitchen! Finally, I came clean and pulled the docent aside. I explained to him I was into real paranormal investigations and insisted he tell me about “the kitchen”. The young man smiled at first, then looked at me knowing I was dead - sorry for the pun - serious. His face became suddenly serious, and started to quietly speak. “Well, I haven’t had any personal experience, but a lot of us don’t like to go down there. Especially where the deep freeze/cold storage area is. There’s just something…wrong…there,” he said. “It really creeps people out and I’ve heard things like the lights flicker and noises that no one can explain. But that’s just what I’ve heard and really not on the record or anything that’s been verified.” Though I believed him and his pale, worrisome expression to be validation enough.
So, my fellow spectral enthusiasts, I’m afraid I have to report that where this is a great place to visit when you’re looking for creepy - and historically - aesthetic surroundings, don’t expect too much more than that. The tour is an intriguing port through time and gives a perspective to our legal system you may never have had before. But for me, it’s all I could find.
Until next time…happy hunting!!