Location: Asylum Drive, Weston, WV Map
Area: 26.5 acres (10.7 ha)
Closed: May 1994
Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is situated at Asylum Drive, Weston, West Virginia in United States. In the 19th century society in United States began to shift its views on treatment of individuals with mental issues and challenges. In the middle of the century Thomas Kirkbride developed a theory of construction of a Sanatorium with supportive and curative environment for the patients. Over 300 such facilities were constructed across the country. Trans- Allegheny Sanatorium became one such facility.
History of Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum started in the early 1850's when the Virginia General Assembly authorized construction of the medical facility. This massive, now abandoned, medical complex was designed by architect Richard Andrews and constructed in 1858-1881 to house people with psychological deviations and mental retardations. Outbreak of the Civil War caused serious issues with funds for construction. It was renamed West Virginia Hospital for the Insane and in 1864 the facility accepted its first residents. It became the largest hand cut stone masonry building in North America that could house over 250 patients. However in the middle of 1950's at its peak the hospital was overcrowded with over 2400 patients. It was closed on May 1994, but many people claim that the souls of the dead still haunt this place. Asylum is currently available for historic tours as well as paranormal investigations during day time as well as night time.
Three small museums devoted to military history,
toys, and mental health were opened on the first floor of the main
hospital building in 2004, but were soon forced to close due to fire
Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was auctioned by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on August 29, 2007. Joe Jordan, an asbestos demolition contractor from Morgantown, was the high bidder and paid $1.5 million for the 242,000-square-foot (22,500 m2) building. Bidding started at $500,000. Joe Jordan has also begun maintenance projects on the former hospital grounds. In October 2007, a Fall Fest was held at the Weston State Hospital. Guided historic and paranormal daytime tours were offered as well as evening ghost hunts and paranormal tours.
The main building of the Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum known as the Kirkbride, holds several rooms that serve as the museum, located on the first floor. There are paintings, poems, and drawings made by patients in the art therapy programs, a room dedicated to the different medical treatments and restraints used in the past, and artifacts such as a straitjacket and hydrotherapy tub. The tour guides dress in clothes that resemble 19th century nurse outfits; blue dress, white apron, white cap, and white shoes. The shorter historical tour offer allows visitors to see the first floor of the Kirkbride, while the longer historical tour allows visitors to see all four floors, apartments of the staff, the morgue, and the operating room. Aside from the historical tours, there are also two paranormal tours. Both start as the sun sets, the shorter tour lasting around two to three hours, the longer tour being overnight with the option of having a private tour.
As of 2012, the records of the Weston State Hospital reside with the Library of Virginia. While the records are accessible to the public, those who go to the library in person, can sign in and view the records but information on patients below the age of 75 cannot be recorded or publicized to protect those patients due to HIPAA laws.