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A Vision of the Future: Introduction

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Image courtesy of J. Greg Pirmann

Once called the shame of the nation, the Pennhurst State School and Hospital was the epicenter of a civil and human rights movement that changed the way the world saw people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The atrocities of neglect at Pennhurst resulted in Supreme Court litigation that sounded the death knell for institutionalization worldwide. Through preservation and adaptive re-use of the historic Pennhurst campus, the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance seeks to ensure that those achievements won at Pennhurst are neither lost nor forgotten. We seek to reclaim this once painful place as a center of conscience, healing, and outreach. This process is essential in the creation and preservation of a society where, all people are valued and respected, and where all people have the knowledge, opportunity, and power to improve their lives and the lives of others.

Recently recognized as an International Site of Conscience, Pennhurst offers the opportunity to again achieve something unique and revolutionary. Re-use of this powerfully emotive site in form and footprint will give a foundation for a better future. A research center, interpretive center, archive, and conference facility will encourage understanding of the past while keeping current issues relevant through ongoing dialogue.

The proposed plan invites active and dynamic public participation on the campus. In purpose and effect, this interaction directly creates connections and promotes networks within and among communities so that people with disabilities are recognized as integral to the fabric of community life.

© 2009 Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance. All rights reserved.