Friday Funny: Hallowed Haunted Penitentiary Walls

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Surgery (Photo: Mark Perrott).
Surgery (Photo: Mark Perrott).

In honor of Halloween, FacilityBlog is covering Terror Behind the Walls, a haunted house located inside the walls of an old, unused prison in Philadelphia, PA. The setting—Eastern State Penitentiary—is perfect for a haunted attraction. Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, it now stands in ruin, a lost world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. This gothic structure, with soaring 30-foot high fortress walls, is intimidating enough during the day. At night, the cellblocks fall into darkness, and the building becomes truly terrifying.

This year, a new experience of special interest to facility professionals has been added. Hidden deep inside the cellblocks is a long forgotten machine shop. This one-of-a-kind attraction features intense startles, immersive one-on-one experiences, and gruesome industrial scenes. It takes the highly interactive Terror Behind the Walls experience to new heights.

In addition to the new machine shop (previewed in the video below), the experience includes five additional attractions, including:

  • Lock down in cellblock 12;
  • Detritus in the historic prison greenhouse;
  • Infirmary and medical treatments gone wrong;
  • The experiment in 3-D; and
  • Night watch in shutdown mode.

Many people believe that Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. As early as the 1940s, officers and inmates reported mysterious visions and eerie experiences in the ancient prison.

With the growing interest in paranormal investigations, Eastern State Penitentiary may now be the most carefully studied building in the United States. Nearly 60 paranormal teams visit to explore the site in a typical year. The historic site’s website,, features extensive television and audio clips that document real paranormal investigations inside the 185-year old prison.

Terror Behind the Walls is located inside Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia. Terror Behind the Walls does not affect operation of the historic site, which remains open for daytime tours seven days a week, year round. All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark.

Terror Behind the Walls has grown from a single-night event in 1991 to a 31-night event with shows selling out far in advance. More than half of the visitors who attended in 2013 traveled to Philadelphia for the event, with tickets sold to visitors in 50 states and 26 foreign countries. This theatrical production runs on select evenings from September 19 through November 8, 2014.