Name: Morgue
Build Date: 1903
Type: Support Buildings
Demolished?: No
Current Building #: 35
Alternate Names: Laboratory
Special Features:
 - Connected to the basement of the female convalescent building via an underground tunnel and elevator.
SEE IT ON A MAP: Map 1 (Building is highlighted in yellow)

 

Built in 1903, the morgue sits in a valley to the south of the main hospital complex and just west of the water works. Besides its obvious use of holding the bodies of deceased patients until they would be examined, buried, or sent home, it also contained a pathology laboratory on the second floor. On the first floor was an autopsy table as well as coolers. A tunnel connects to the rear of the first floor and runs into the hill side. At the end of the tunnel is an elevator that connects to the basement of the female convalescent building. The second floor lab was quite possibly the most elaborate of any in the Pennsylvania state hospital system at the time of its construction. Even after the new morgue building was finished, Superintendent Henry Orth continued to upgraded the pathological work being done at the hospital. The placement of the morgue in the valley near the water works was no accident. During the early twentieth century one of the biggest responsibilities of the pathologist was to conduct regular tests on the hospital water supply and to make sure the sewage disposal plant was functioning properly. The Pathologist in 1915 was a man by the name of Walter E. Kiefer. That year new Reagents Glassware and a centrifuge of 3,000 revolutions per minute were purchased for the lab. Also that year 78 Wassermann tests were conducted on blood and spinal fluids to test for Syphilis. The morgue suffered a fire in the late 20th century that was set by a patient, fortunately the damage to the building was rather limited. Today (2010) the building still appears almost exactly as it did when it was built. Other than several boxes of pipe insulation that are being stored on the first floor, the interior is almost like walking into a time capsule. The second floor lab, although missing all the glass bottles, beakers and other testing equipment, still looks just like it did in 1915. Because of numerous attempt by people to break into the building after the hospital closed, all the windows have been boarded up and a new, stronger door was put on the building as well as a steel gate. All of the equipment that was in the building, including the coolers, were sold when the hospital closed. The tunnel that leads out the rear of the first floor to the basement of the female convalescent building has been sealed off just before the elevator by a cinder block wall. The future of this building is uncertain, there are no definite plans by the state to either reuse or demolish it. More than likely it will continue to sit vacant until something unfortunate happens to it, like a fire or collapse. Most recently the building was used in May of 2010 as one of the sets for the show Ghost Lab which will air on the Discovery Channel for season two of the show.

CEMETERY INFORMATION: I have moved all information on the hospital cemeteries to a new page. SEE IT HERE

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