Possible spring break destination: Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum



This spine-tingling destination could be the perfect one to visit over spring break.

Morgan Browning, Staff Reporter

In small town Weston, West Virginia, there is an old hospital that attracts visitors every year. It is known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Before it closed in 1994, the building served as a psychiatric hospital for patients of all ages. It was designed to hold 250 people, but in the 1950s, it was holding 2,400 patients, making overcrowding an issue.  In 1994, the place closed because the treatments for psychiatric patients changed drastically. The actual building was built by Richard Andrews, being the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States. It is also the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world, following behind one in Moscow Kremlin. It now used as a tourist attraction, allowing tours, ghost hunts and other events that help with money for the building’s restoration.
Construction of the asylum was interrupted by the Civil War in 1861, not housing the first patients until 1864. However, construction did continue until 1881. “The Charleston Gazette” had many reports from the 1940s, saying the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum had poor sanitation and a lack of furniture, light and heating. One wing of the hospital, however, was said to be luxurious after a remodel from the fire in 1935 started by a patient. The asylum contained many assets including wards for the patients, sitting areas, a lobby, a basketball gym, a tuberculosis ward and a jail unit for the more violent patients. Windows were also placed all around the building to follow the Kirkbride plan, where therapeutic sunlight and fresh air would be an abundance for the patients.
Patients in the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum grew in number over the years, reaching over 2 thousand in the 1950s. People were admitted to the asylum for many reasons besides mental issues. Divorce during this time was frowned upon, so a man could take his wife to the asylum instead. Women were even admitted for “female disease” and “women trouble”. A list of admission reasons was posted in the asylum that listed the most bizarre reasons you had ever heard of. The list included jealousy, laziness, novel reading, politics excitement, asthma, bad company, bad whiskey, tobacco, falling off a horse during war, greediness, marriage of son and grief. No, this wasn’t a joke either. There are hundreds more reasons that an asylum wouldn’t be the answer to today, but back then was the only option.
Treatment for the patients was the main reason the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum shut down. The medicine and treatments changed drastically from when the place opened to the 1990s. While the asylum was housing patients, they would receive hydrotherapy, electroshock therapy and lobotomies. Some were even put in ice baths to shock their systems.
After the patients were locked in cages most of the day, they became violent and angry. There are several cases where patients killed other patients or attacking the staff. Two men hung their roommate by sheets tied together and slung over a rafter. When he didn’t die immediately, they put him down and beat him with a metal bed frame. A lot of patients did unfortunately die while staying in the asylum and some say they never left. The historic landmark now provides ghost hunt and tours around the Trans-Allegheny and people have reported finding ghost activity during their sessions. One particular repeated sighting is of a girl name Lily, who died at a young age at the asylum. Her toys are still in her room how they were left and a ball has even been said of rolling down the hallway on its own.
Lastly, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum had been turned into a historic landmark for tourists and ghost hunters all over. It has even been featured on the shows Paranormal Lockdown and Ghost Adventures. Anyone can go visit the asylum and learn more about the haunting history or go on a hunt for past patients who never left. Then, if you’re really brave, you can stay overnight, ghost hunting in the early hours of the morning. A waiver is signed before any type of tour is participated in for safety purposes, but don’t let that psych you out of a fun, adventure-filled mini-vacation at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.