We were back at it again this weekend and visited The Sleighton Farm School. Shout out to a reader Justin, for telling me about this place!
I was, without a doubt, overly excited to learn about a new place to explore and one that holds so much history. My favorite part about exploring is finding an abandoned place that has history behind it. Yes, it might be fun to explore an abandoned Toys R’ Us; but I prefer an adventure that tells a story.
This property has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. The lands first owner was Henry Sleighton, who received the land grant from William Penn. For my out of state and out of country readers, William Penn was the founder of Pennsylvania and under his direction the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.
In 1826, the house of Refuge formed in Philadelphia. It was funded by the Pennsylvania Prison Society and its intent was to handle juveniles. In the late 1800s, the school broke off and formed an all boys academy and then later Sleighton School for girls was formed to follow more of a family setting environment then the existing rough conditions of the Philadelphia House of Refugee. In 1909, the school began its construction. In 1911, the school opened and was originally part of the Glenn Mills School System until it went on its own in 1931.
A popular architectural firm was hired out of Philadelphia to construct the dormitories for the young women being housed here.
The buildings are still beautiful on the outside but have fallen to Mother Nature and vandalism on the inside, as most abandoned properties do. Walls and ceilings are falling down and several water leaks can be found. Another oddity we came across with this property was the grass. Surrounding the property was tall grass, vines, bamboo and most buildings were covered in vines but the grass wasn’t overgrown near the buildings. At least not to the extent you would imagine with lack of grounds keeping and especially because Pennsylvania has had rain nearly every day in the month of August.
In my research, I came across a scholarly journal with research on the benefit of reform schools being in the country or the city. The article was extremely detailed and not something I would delve into here but it really shed light on the segregation that took place within the school. The article, written in the earlier 1900s, divided the students between white and negro and showed the difference between the races and things such as IQ, crime history, STD rate. The bias was in the writing, saying that the negro statistics had lower IQs and higher STD rates, but if you looked at them, the percentage was minimal. Not enough, in my opinion, to claim it was “higher”. If any readers are interested, use the contact me page and I’d be happy to forward you the PDF.
While exploring, we ventured into a few buildings and of course, the church. The church seems to be the focal point of most urban explorers pages or Instagram feeds. There was a small window you could go into, which took you into the basement of the church. Thank you to the explorer who created these make shift steps.
The church was built in 1964 and now it has been heavily vandalized and home to pigeons.
You can see the vandalism below along with several spray painted satanic symbols and images.
But…when in Rome… you should get your picture taken in the chair.
Sleighton Farm school operated as a farm school until the 60s, eventually it turned into a CoEd facility and by then housed more males then female. In the 90s, it suffered from financial trouble and eventually closed for good in the early 2000s. The property, of course, still lies vacant.
Below is a link to an archive which shows you correspondence between a charitable organization and the school regarding one of its students. It’s worth checking out.
If you’re a reader of the blog, you know I’m not one to claim a property is haunted. But I have to tell you, there was one building that our Canon80D, phone and flashlight completed stopped working in front of. Reach out if you felt anything strange from this particular building pictured below.
Was this abandoned place worth the exploration? Absolutely, read below to see why I think it deserves the time.
- The history — always! This is probably my first reason why on every blog post. If you’re from PA, it’s nice to learn more about its history.
- It’s easily accessible, we came across other explorers this time!
- The architecture is to die for! Buildings aren’t made this way any more. Most were constructed in the early 1900s and truthfully they aren’t in that bad of condition.
- Time! You’re running out! This is prime real estate and before you know it it will be a gas station or apartment complex.
Why shouldn’t you visit? I can’t even find a reason that you shouldn’t visit this property, um, well, other then for legality reasons. But, like I always say go but be respectful. The buildings have enough spray paint, you don’t need to add more and try to forgo smashing windows or stealing anything. This is a great explore– help keep it that way, please!
Until next time — keep exploring!