Embreeville Complex

Let me start off by saying that the Embreeville Complex or Embreeville Asylum is vast! It could easily take an entire weekend to truly explore the whole campus as well as the underground tunnels. 

Embreeville started out as an Almshouse in 1798 and they were to care for the poor, insane and neglected. The facility eventually developed into a place where people could live a little more independently and perform every day tasks and learn new skills. 


This piece of kitchen equipment still stands and given the size of the room, it looks as though it was a large kitchen but perhaps it was used to teach cooking skills. 

There were several cafeterias in the building. 

The Complex continued to grow and around the early 1900s, patients from a nearby hospital were relocated to Embreeville. Over time, more buildings were constructed to meet the needs of an expanding mentally ill population. 

In 1938, the state took control of Embreeville, this was due in part of a new piece of legislation that the state was assuming responsibility of the public mental facilities. 

Despite the fact that Embreeville is now overgrown and vanadalized, it was once noted by the American Psychiatric Association as one of three model hospitals in the entire country. 

Eventually in the 1970’s, it also became home to a juvenile detention center. 

In 1980, Embreeville closed up shop for good and has been left abandoned and is still abandoned even though a developer purchased the land in 2012.

 

As you can see the conditions of the building are poor, but overall it seemed like a damn shame they were left abandoned. There were still pianos in the building, kitchen equipment, numerous odds and ends that I imagine could have been reused in a similar facility or donated.

Structurally, the buildings are in decent shape, with the exception of the roof on the majority of them. Naturally, had this been turned over sooner, it wouldn’t have been as vanadalized. 

Well, should you visit Embreeville? 

First, here’s why I think you should;

  • It’s an urban explorers dream come true. I wasn’t even able to count the amount of buildings on this property and all of them are two to three stories and a basement. Not only do you have buildings to explore but there is an entire unground tunnel system connecting the buildings. I, unfortunately can’t provide you a review on that because I, not being a fan of dark enclosed spaces, wouldn’t venture down under. 
  • As I say in nearly every post, the history. Not all of the structures have been there since the 1700’s, but this place played a pivotal role in the treatment of the poor in Pennsylvania.
  • The eeriness of this place would probably fall on my visit and my do not visit list. On average, I’m a scaredy cat, I’m not afraid to admit it. I sometimes jump out of my skin when my phone goes off and the house is quiet. But, this place just let off the most ominous vibrations to me. Perhaps it was seeing, what I imagine were bedrooms, and realizing they locked on the outside or the lockable fence in one of the many cafeterias. 

Here’s why you may want to avoid Embreeville: 

  • It appears to be policed on a regularly basis. It’s property line is adjacent to the State Police Barracks. And, I can tell you with the utmost assurance that they do patrol. 
  • You’ll have to do some walking through grassy/overgrown areas and the ticks are rampant. I had the pleasure of having 6 on me in the matter of a few hours. 
  • There is mold and asbestos in ALL of the buildings. It’s bad. If you go, perhaps you should wear a mask. 
  • Obviously, it’s no trespassing. 


I thoroughly enjoyed Embreeville and would enjoy going back because I feel there is so much we missed. 

If you visit, proceed with caution, be respectful and enjoy your adventure! 

5 thoughts on “Embreeville Complex

  1. Wow! I am originally from Downingtown and remember hearing about Embreeville on the news and in conversation. It’s a shame these old buildings weren’t obtained shortly after it was no longer in use as a juvenile facility. I imagine it could have been used as apartments with some renovation. I was just reading about an asylum in another state where they did exactly that and made beautiful apartments. Of course though that would mean less places for urban explorers to go! Thank you for taking the pictures! I agree that the items inside would have made a nice donation, even to a museum. I sometimes wonder about the paranormal aspect as well, with some of the things that have been said about the places in their use as an asylum. Don’t know if I would have the courage to go in some of them!

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    • It was a truly fascinating facility. It’s a shame it’s no more, a developer did purchase the land/buildings and I do believe housing will go there eventually but it’s to my understanding that they were having some type of zoning issue. I am thankful my exploring partner is more courageous then I, because sometimes I need a good push!

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  2. I would love to visit the complex but I am afraid of being caught. Do you think there could be some way that I could legally get in or avoid getting caught?

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    • You could try and contact the property owner, Im not sure how far you would get with that though. Honestly, I think it’s kind of a luck of the draw. We truly go just to take photos and experience the space so I think if you’re not doing anything malicious, you will be fine. I’d suggest small groups, be quiet and respectful and you should be fine.

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  3. This place is completely destroyed now. Went there about 4 months ago, walked for 3 miles all for it to be completely destroyed. When me and a few friends went there, it was covered in dirt mounds and bulldozers. The tunnels still remain in tack but I do not recommend since there is the chance of you getting caved in because of the dirt mounds

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