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Haunted Hospital: Former W.Va. Mental Asylum Offers Historical and Ghost Tours

Haunted hospital.

west virginia mental hospital tour

Dressed in a “Stranger Things” T-shirt, the author’s daughter Emma poses for a photo on the front porch of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

west virginia mental hospital tour

I’m still not sure whether the pun was intended.

We hit the154-year-old former psychiatric hospital for a one-hour heritage tour followed by a 90-minute daytime ghost tour on our way back from nearby Stonewall Resort a few days before school started in August. Despite all the amenities at the top-notch resort, it was the asylum that inspired Emma to tag along on the overnight trip with me and our Russian college exchange student, Kirill.

Leading a ghost tour in broad daylight takes talent, and our guide, Scott Lowther, delivered. It didn’t hurt that our tour group included several pre-teen and teen girls, who in my experience are simply goofy about the paranormal, thanks to popular shows such as “Buzzfeed Unsolved,” “Stranger Things” and “Supernatural.” If Scott called for a volunteer, they were the first to put their hands in the air.

For part of the tour, Emma got to hold the standard ghost-hunting meter that detects changes in the electromagnetic field, but it apparently was a quiet day. She and several other volunteers experimented with the dowsing rods in a men’s bathroom where the spirit of a violent former inmate reportedly hangs out. Scott asked the ghost questions and directed him to move the rods that supposedly were being held motionless by the volunteer. When the rods moved, that was the ghost “answering.”

west virginia mental hospital tour

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum ghost-tour guide Scott Lowther prepares to shut the author’s daughter Emma in a closet where paranormal activity previously had been reported. Emma emerged stating “something’ brushed her arm.

In one of the attic rooms, Emma, another girl and an adult man took turns being shut inside a dark closet. The other two said the closet was eerily quiet, but Emma reported feeling something brush along her arm. Upon her return to school a few days later, she told the class it was the highlight of her summer.

With the sun streaming in the tall, barred windows and illuminating all the creepy corners, it was easy to be skeptical. But I can see that by moonlight or flashlight, with a guide like Lowther telling tales of patients’ misdeeds and matter-of-factly recounting chilling and unexplained experiences, one could easily be spooked. The odd shapes revealed by random patches of peeling paint alone would freak me out.

Three guesses where Emma wants to go for her 13th birthday, and the first two don’t count.

——

Construction on the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum began in 1858, and the grounds were used by troops during the Civil War. It accepted its first nine patients in 1864 but wasn’t fully operational until 1881 under the revised moniker of West Virginia Hospital for the Insane.

west virginia mental hospital tour

Photos by Betsy Bethel Tour-goers re-enter the main building of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, after visiting the nearby medical center. The 200-foot-high tower was among the many major restorations made by the Jordan family after purchasing the former Weston Hospital in 2007. It is open for daytime and nighttime ghost tours, heritage tours and, through Nov. 3, the Hospital of Horrors haunted house.

The sprawling stone structure was designed using the philosophy of Thomas Kirkbride, a Quaker physician who believed patients with mental illnesses should be provided with privacy, exposed daily to sunlight, and receive other humane treatments. His hospitals featuring long corridors arranged in staggered wings became the standard for mental institutions around the country; there were nearly 80 built in the U.S. based on his philosophy. Designed by architect Richard Andrews, the Weston hospital is the largest hand-cut stone structure in North America and boasts 9 acres of floor space.

Despite Kirkbride’s good intentions, within the first years of full operation, the hospital had more than 700 patients, which far exceeded his assertion that no more than 250 patients should be housed in one institution. Overcrowding spiraled out of control in the first half of the 20th century.

By 1951, the hospital reportedly had 2,000 patients, including men, women and children with varying degrees of illness, from violent criminals to geriatric patients with dementia. Lobotomies became standard procedure, administered indiscriminately to roomfuls of patients.

The hospital underwent two additional name changes: It became the Weston State Hospital in 1980 and was known simply as Weston Hospital until it was closed in 1994, a victim of the deinstitutionalization movement. Some of the patients were transferred to a nearby smaller facility called Sharpe Hospital.

west virginia mental hospital tour

It is thought Irish stonemasons in the 19th century carved grotesque faces such as these into the asylum’s walls to ward off evil spirits.

Named a National Historic Landmark in 1990, the hospital remained shuttered for 13 years before Morgantown resident Joe Jordan bought it at an auction in 2007 for $1.5 million. A ventilation and asbestos abatement contractor, Jordan had tried to save the old Spencer mental hospital from demolition and when Weston became available he jumped on the opportunity. He changed the name back to Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and began working to meticulously restore the main building and open it for tours.

Jordan and his grown children operate the asylum. His son John is the “haunt coordinator,” working year-round on the haunted house that opens each October, running this year through Nov. 3. His daughter Rebecca is the operations manager, and Joe himself is on site every day, traveling from Morgantown to Weston to make sure things are running smoothly.

“He’s very hands-on. He takes a lot of responsibility for ensuring the safety of the building. … He takes a lot of pride in everything we do here,” said Bethany Cutright, former nighttime ghost-tour guide who is now the office manager. The asylum employs 10 people year round, adding additional tour guides in spring, summer and fall. In October, “the payroll goes through the roof” to about 50, Cutright said, including actors and guides for the haunted house and Zombie Paint Ball excursions.

For the latter, “we load up our willing participants into the back of a troop transport truck … and drive through the farm land and save humanity from zombies. It’s just a fun thing to do,” Cutright said.

Each year, John Jordan tries to make the haunted house — it’s called Hospital of Horrors — into something new and spectacular. This is the 11th year for the Halloween haunt, located on three main floors and the basement of the former tuberculosis facility adjacent to the main building. The premise is “a demented doctor” who “has brought his patients’ nightmares to life,” performing “sadistic experiments” that turn them into horrifying creatures in his quest to achieve immortality, according to the website.

west virginia mental hospital tour

A sunlit hallway of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum illustrates the bright atmosphere envisioned by 19th-century physician Thomas Kirkbride whose work on treatment of mental patients inspired the building’s design.

There are no actors during the year-round tours, unless you count the guides who wear period costumes and are well trained in both the hospital’s heritage and its haunted history. The office workers also dress for the part in vintage white nursing uniforms. The guides know a bit about theatrics, too, whether it’s the art of setting up a good story or dropping the perfectly timed, titillating fact.

The ghost and heritage tours are done separately. Guests can ask the ghost-tour guide anything about the building’s history, but it’s verboten to question the history-tour guide about anything paranormal. This rule is to respect the guests who are interested in the history but find the supernatural stuff too scary, distasteful or offensive.

“We are working to really provide educational history because we have a lot of schools that come. It’s important that we show we are truly trying to do an accurate portrayal of the history,” Cutright said. “Years and years and years of research” has been done by herself and Rebecca Jordan, she said, “and we’re always learning more.”

Our heritage-tour guide, Zandel (no last name provided), was dressed in a short-sleeve white shirt, black pants and black suspenders His presentation was slow and methodical without being boring. He took us through several wards in the main building, including the geriatric and pediatric wards and the doctors’ quarters, as well as the medical center built in 1930 behind the main building. Before and after the tour, guests are encouraged to wander the first floor museum exhibits, including medical equipment, photos of patients and artwork created by patients in the late 20th century. One room features several panels delineating a timeline of significant events in the hospital’s history.

west virginia mental hospital tour

Zandel, who didn’t provide his last name, greets guests before beginning a historical tour of the former state mental hospital that opened in 1864.

Zandel pointed out places where fire, death or violence had taken place, but kept his presentation formal. He also related the disturbing fact that women could be forcibly admitted by their husbands and left there indefinitely. Children in the hospital may have been orphaned or put there when their parents couldn’t control them.

Printed on one wall is a list of reasons for admission, taken from official records dating from Oct. 22, 1864, to Dec. 12, 1889. They include: domestic trouble, desertion by husband, uterine derangement, severe labor, fall from horse, cold, indigestion, remorse, opium habit, politics, moral sanity, worms, sunstroke, egotism, bad whiskey, marriage to son and over study of religion.

If that’s not scary enough …

After asking Emma if she was excited, Lowther, who resembled the Pittsburgh Dad minus the “yinzer” accent, led us through all four floors of the main building telling some of the same stories as Zandel but with a supernatural slant. Spots where particularly bloody events had taken place coincided with reports of paranormal activity, he said. He described apparition sightings, voices and sounds coming from unoccupied sections and rooms, and guests and staff being physically touched — and in a couple cases even harmed — by invisible forces. He even pulled up pictures on his cell phone to show us the victims with nasty scratches down their faces.

Both Lowther and Cutright said they had several experiences they could not explain while at work. When she was a nighttime tour guide, Cutright said she was gesturing toward a room on the second floor where a stabbing had taken place and saw a man in the room leaning over the sink. It was Halloween season and she assumed it was a reveler who had drunk too much before the tour and was being sick. Everyone in her group was accounted for, however, and when she looked back in the room, it was empty.

Another time, she and another employee were the only ones in the first floor main hallway when the lights quit working. She went to another part of the building to flip the breaker and wondered aloud to herself if that had fixed the problem.

“I heard someone say ‘Nope,’ as clear as day, right behind me.”

According to the asylum’s website, thrill seekers from SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Hunters Academy,” the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” and “Paranormal Challenge” have confirmed unexplainable phenomena.

States the website: “Thousands have been committed to the asylum over the years, and hundreds unfortunately died here. Decide for yourself if they’re still occupying the historic wards and treatment rooms.”

Emma had her mind made up in the affirmative before stepping inside, and I believe she had the best experience of all of us.

Unfortunately, the image that haunts me most was found in the exhibit of patient art. It’s a child’s drawing done in marker depicting a stick-figure man with his hands around a child’s neck and the stilted text: “Father choking Shawn.”

Whether you’re going for the history or the haunting, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is not a destination for the faint of heart.

For information on the many tour opportunities, including overnight ghost hunts and private rentals, visit http://trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com.

west virginia mental hospital tour

A list of reasons for admission to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is painted on the wall, taken from late 19th-century records, with part of the patient art gallery shown in the background.

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Trans-Allegheny Asylum, Weston, WV, Lewis County, Monongahela Valley Region

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum at Weston, West Virginia , in Lewis County , was a psychiatric hospital that operated from 1864 until 1994, after which it became an important historical and paranormal tourist attraction. The complex was long known as the Weston State Hospital .

Its Gothic Revival main building may be one of the largest hand-cut stone buildings in the U.S. and may be second in the world in size to the Kremlin in Moscow.

The asylum was authorized by the Virginia Assembly in the years leading up to the Civil War and was located far from centers of population in eastern Virginia — across the Alleghenies.

Completed in 1881, architect Richard Snowden Andrews designed the asylum to hold 250 people; however, it became overcrowded in the 1950s with more than 2,400 patients and was closed.

The building was designed in the Gothic and Tudor revival styles. Construction along the West Fork River opposite the village of Weston began in late 1858. Other commissions fulfilled by Andrews included the residences of the Maryland governor at Annapolis and the south wing of the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C.

Joe Jordan, an asbestos demolition contractor from Morgantown, West Virginia , paid $1.5 million for the 242,000-square-foot building which he has since helped stabilize and restore while providing guided historic and paranormal daytime tours and evening ghost hunts.

The main building of the asylum includes several museum rooms that include paintings, poems, and drawings made by patients in the art therapy programs as well as rooms dedicated to medical treatments that include artifacts such as a strait-jacket and hydrotherapy tub. Guides dress in clothes that resemble 19th century nurse outfits.

A short historical tour offers visitors the opportunity to explore the first floor of the Kirkbride, or main building, while a longer historical tour allows visitors to see all four floors, staff apartments, the morgue, and an 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.

Visit the asylum's official website .

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Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (formerly Weston State Hospital)

west virginia mental hospital tour

This West Virginia facility served as a sanctuary for the mentally ill in the mid-1800’s. The history of the building holds fascinating stories of Civil War raids, a gold robbery, the "curative" effects of architecture, and the efforts of determined individuals to help better the lives of the mentally ill. We offer daytime historic tours including museum rooms, night time paranormal tours, overnight ghost hunts, photo tours, festivals flashlight tours and a haunted house .

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In West Virginia, a moving, respectful tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

“If only these walls could talk!”

The thought occurs to me as I’m led down the long, gloomy corridors of the building known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which housed thousands of patients over its 130-year history as a hospital for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.

But after hearing about the horrors that took place here, including patients who endured severe overcrowding, were shackled to walls or were victims of abuse , I realize that perhaps it is better that the walls remain silent.

The asylum stands on a lush, 300-acre parcel of land in what now is Weston, W.Va. The Virginia General Assembly authorized its construction in 1858, intending that it join its predecessors in Williamsburg and Staunton as the commonwealth’s third such institution.

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The outbreak of the Civil War brought a diversion of funds and a delay in construction. When the asylum admitted its first patients in 1864, it was under the governance of West Virginia, which was admitted to the Union the year before, having begun the process of becoming a separate state in 1861.

The asylum housed patients until 1994, when it was replaced by the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital, also in Weston. The abandoned hospital remained shuttered for more than a decade and fell hard into a state of neglect and disrepair.

West Virginia businessman Joe Jordan and his family purchased the former asylum at auction in 2007, with the intention of preserving and restoring it. The facility was opened to the public later that year, sparking complaints about the use of the pejorative term “lunatic” in the name, and the controversial titles of such events as the “Psycho Path” and “Lobotomy Flashlight Tour.”

In news accounts at that time, mental-health advocates criticized the facility for exploiting people with mental illness and denigrating the field of psychology.

A spokeswoman for the asylum said last week that, although the facility went by several names over the years, the name Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was chosen simply because it was the facility’s original name.

The facility now offers a variety of tours and experiences, including paranormal tours, 45- and 90-minute heritage tours, photography tours, ghost hunts and tours of the facility’s farm, cemeteries and wards for the “criminally insane.” The year-long calendar of events features such diverse affairs as a drag show, barbecue championship, car show and haunted house, and the annual Asylum Ball.

Although the “Psycho Path” and “Zombie Flashlight Tour” have been discontinued, the asylum’s calendar still includes special events with questionable names and themes, such as “Crazy for Barbecue” and “Zombie Paintball,” and the ghost tours spin tales of patients who lived — and died — there.

I arrive for my tour of the asylum — which is about a five-hour drive from the District — on a sunny but chilly day in early April, soon after the beginning of the spring tour season. I prefer my history straight up — no lost souls, disembodied voices or self-propelled objects — so I opt for the 90-minute heritage tour, which covers all four floors of the main hospital building and the first floor of the medical center.

While waiting for the tour to start, I watch a short film about the history of the asylum and browse through two front rooms that feature photos and displays commemorating the lives and works of Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride, 19th-century advocates for treating mentally ill people with dignity.

Dix was a social reformer whose tireless efforts led to the establishment of the nation’s first public hospitals for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.

Kirkbride, a physician, pioneered the construction of asylums designed to promote healing and recovery, emphasizing the restorative properties of natural sunlight and beautifully landscaped grounds. His ideas influenced the design and construction of hundreds of such facilities, including St. Elizabeths Hospital in the District as well as the asylum in Weston.

At the appointed time, a small group gathers inside the hospital’s main entrance, where we are greeted by Lowther, our guide, who is dressed in an old-style nurse’s uniform. At the outset, she addresses the issue of the facility’s name.

“Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum” was the name given the hospital by the Virginia General Assembly when it was established in 1858, she says. When West Virginia assumed control of the asylum in 1863, its name changed to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. By the early 1900s, it was known simply as Weston State Hospital, which Lowther acknowledges is more “politically correct.”

As she leads us around the exterior of the main building, I’m reminded of a line from “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel: “stroll around the grounds until you feel at home.”

The setting is beautiful, and the hospital’s exterior is stunning. The facility is aptly described on its Facebook page as appearing “more European castle than American hospital,” with an “imposing Gothic structure [that] exemplifies Victorian architecture at its finest.”

The building, designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1990, is indeed massively impressive. It spans nearly a quarter of a mile from end to end — 1,295 feet to be exact. Lowther informs us that the interior contains more than nine acres of floor space, with several wings extending from the building’s central area. It is, she says, the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world. (The largest is the Kremlin.)

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Lowther points out the athletic field on the front lawn, still equipped with a backstop where soldiers played baseball during the Civil War. Over the years, children from the town were allowed to play baseball and football there.

To one side is a hill, where three cemeteries serve as the final resting place for patients whose families never reclaimed their bodies — often because of the stigma associated with mental illness, Lowther says.

Greenhouses and a dairy barn were among the outbuildings that provided work for some of the patients. Whenever possible, they were given tasks that would give them a sense of accomplishment and reduce the need for paid staff, she says.

When the tour moves inside, Lowther warns that it will be colder because we won’t feel the sunshine anymore. She’s right. The facility has only been partially restored, and the interior is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The long, dark corridors are flanked by walls with badly peeling paint, and water pools on the floors of some of the rooms.

The tour moves quickly through rooms that once served as the kitchen, dining areas, employee break room, morgue and geriatric men’s ward. We pass the dentist’s office, barber shop and beauty parlor. The Old Soldiers’ Ward once housed World War I veterans suffering from what was then known as shell shock — a term that has been replaced by post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Lowther shows us the apothecary, where heroin, cannabis and bourbon were among the “medicines” that were dispensed to treat the patients.

A cross is displayed in the window of a large, empty auditorium, indicating that the room was once used as a chapel. The auditorium served multiple purposes, such as an athletic court, where boys from the town would play basketball against teams of patients. The local high school even held its proms there, Lowther says.

The upper floors include living areas for the patients, doctors and nurses. We pass a room that has been featured on television programs that focus on ghosts and the paranormal. Lowther says it is reputed to be one of the hospital’s most haunted rooms, where she swears that she once saw a ball move by itself — a good teaser for one of the asylum’s ghost tours.

As Lowther leads us through the wings where the patients lived, it becomes apparent that the hospital is a study in contrasts and contradictions. It was conceived and constructed with good intentions and high ideals — respect for the dignity of each individual, with bright, airy living spaces, nicely decorated common areas, high-quality food service and an open campus — all of which were intended to promote healing and recovery.

The hospital was originally designed as a residence for 250 patients. Most would have a tiny, private room with a small bed and a window to let in natural daylight and provide a scenic view.

But the grim reality fell far short of those lofty ambitions.

Over time, the hospital became badly overcrowded, housing more than 2,600 patients at its peak occupancy in the 1950s, Lowther says. She tells us that the rooms and corridors were crammed with as many beds as they could hold. When the overcrowding was most severe, the same beds were used by multiple patients, sleeping in shifts.

One wing displays photos depicting some of the most controversial treatments that were used over the years: insulin-shock therapy, in which patients were placed in medically induced comas, ice-cold hydrotherapy to treat women diagnosed with hysteria, and “ice-pick lobotomies.”

The notorious lobotomies, which doctors performed for decades in the mid-20th century, involved the insertion of an instrument resembling an ice pick through patients’ eye sockets to sever connections in their brains, usually destroying their personality as a result. The Weston facility was one where Walter Freeman, known as the “father of the lobotomy,” performed the controversial procedures, Lowther says.

Before the tour ends, she stops to talk about why people were committed to the asylum. It wasn’t always because of mental illness. They might have had physical ailments such as asthma, epilepsy, rabies or tuberculosis. Some had suffered brain damage from being kicked by a horse.

The asylum’s gift shop displays a poster — an enlargement of a document compiled from patient case studies listing some of the factors that led patients to be admitted to the asylum between 1864 and 1889. It includes such curious entries as “vicious vices in early life,” “seduction,” “egotism,” “bad whisky,” “indigestion,” “loss of arm,” “shooting of daughter” and “doubt about his mother’s ancestors.”

In the 1800s, when women had few rights, it was easy for men to have their wives committed for the rest of their lives, she says, suggesting that this could have been a way for the men to get their wives out of the way so they could pursue new relationships. This might explain some of the entries documenting some of the underlying reasons behind hospital admissions: “change of life,” “menstrual problems” and “childbirth,” as well as political or religious “excitement,” “disappointed love,” “death of sons in war,” “domestic trouble,” “laziness” or “novel reading.”

The tour provides a fascinating look at the asylum and a glimpse into the lives of the people who resided and worked there. Despite my misgivings about the use of the term “lunatic” in the facility’s moniker, and the names of some of the events, I feel that the heritage tour has generally been tastefully conducted and respectful of those who received care there.

When the tour ends, I study the poster in the gift shop and wonder about the patients — what their lives had been like before they arrived there and the reasons they were institutionalized, as well as their experiences inside.

The asylum does not have medical records of the patients who were admitted there, and I understand why their names or images are omitted from the tour. But the asylum’s story is ultimately about people, and although the tour has left me wanting to know more about them, their secrets will never see the light of day.

Barnes is a writer based in Leesburg, Va. His website is notesnletters.com .

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Stonewall Resort

940 Resort Dr., Roanoke, W.Va.

304-269-7400

stonewallresort.com

The hotel, nestled among the mountains about 10 miles south of Weston in a scenic lakeside setting, has a lodge and cottages, as well as a variety of recreational activities. Rooms in the lodge start at $110.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites

215 Staunton Dr., Weston, W.Va.

304-269-3550

wapo.st/holidayinnweston

This chain motel in Weston is more convenient to the asylum. Rooms start at $130.

Thyme Bistro

125 Main Ave., Weston, W.Va.

304-269-7177

facebook.com/ThymeBistro

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday, and only dinner on Saturday, the cozy bistro has an eclectic menu featuring steak, seafood and pasta. Entrees start at $14.

Deb’s Diner

139 E. Second St., Weston, W.Va.

304-269-0740

facebook.com/debsdiner2016

A locally owned, homey restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch on weekdays. The menu includes sandwiches, salads, daily specials and breakfast all day, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrees from $4.

349 E. Third St., Weston, W.Va.

304-269-3066

facebook.com/westonsesameinn

Popular with locals, the restaurant offers a fairly extensive Chinese buffet at extremely reasonable prices. Entrees from $11.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

71 Asylum Dr., Weston, W.Va.

304-269-5070

trans-alleghenylunatic asylum.com

Weston is about a five-hour drive from the District using Interstates 70, 68 and 79. Taking Highway 50 west from Winchester is more direct, and provides a slower but more scenic alternate route. Tour prices range from $10 for a 45-minute tour of the first floor of the main building to $100 for ghost hunts and some of the specialized tours. Heritage tours are offered Tuesday through Sunday until Nov. 4.

cityofwestonwv.com

 For the author’s full list of recommendations in West Virginia, visit washingtonpost.com/ travel 

west virginia mental hospital tour

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Trans-allegheny lunatic asylum.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known as the Weston State Hospital, was a Kirkbride style psychiatric hospital that opened its doors to the public in 1864. The hospital is known for its hauntings and is one of the most haunted spots in the whole of West Virginia. The asylum keeps secrets dating back to the Civil War, holding them tightly within its stone walls. What could those secrets be? Read on to find out.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum History

Known as the Weston State Hospital when it was constructed in the 1800s, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s construction was stopped in 1858 when the Union soldiers wanted to use the land during the Civil War. The building, like many other asylums at the time, was constructed in the Kirkbride style. Thomas Story Kirkbride was a mentally ill man who wanted nothing more than to be associated in a positive light with American psychiatric facilities. Kirkbride believed patients should be allowed to roam around the facility and the grounds of the asylum. He believed that giving patients more freedom was essential to their healing and that soon they would even be ‘cured’ of their illness. Some of the patients remember fond memories of the asylum, the asylum truly used to live up to its name.

“I remember the Thanksgiving thing was great. We had great turkeys. And the Christmas thing was wonderful… it was like a fairy tale atmosphere. It’s like, I must be in heaven. I’m not in a nut house, i’m in heaven.” Former patient of the TALA

At its inception, the hospital could comfortably contain about 250 patients in private rooms. In 1863, an increase in mental health diagnoses led to the hospital admitting more patients than it could handle. 500 more people were added to the already full hospital, and the asylum started to struggle to keep up with the amount of patients and the care required. Conditions started to decline — rapidly.

Patients were crammed together, with four or five people in one room that was meant to only fit one person. By 1938, the asylum was over six times its capacity. Patients began to take advantage of the situation and were completely out of control of nurses and doctors. Food supplies were running low, and the hospital even started to use hallways for patient rooms. The overcrowding of the asylum was caused by more than just ‘not enough space,’ while plenty of the patients actually suffered from some sort of mental illness, a lot of those admitted were medical reasons, such as asthma, tuberculosis, and rabies. Even stranger, others were wives who were insubordinate to their husbands, indigestion, and political excitement. If one truly thinks about it, most people would have been admitted at some point in their lives — who hasn’t fought with a spouse, had a stomachache or been upset with the world’s political climate?

At the peak of the 1950s, the hospital contained a whopping 2,600 patients. Meant to only house 250, this was an immense overcrowding, leading to fighting and a general sense of apathy that ran rampant throughout the corridors. Patients were forced to sleep on the floor and in freezing rooms with no furniture or heat. Windows were coated in mold, the wallpaper was peeling off the walls, the asylum had begun to look like it was abandoned before it even was.

During this time, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum began performing experimental lobotomies. The hospital performed over 4,000 lobotomies which left healthy patients with irreparable brain damage and hemorrhages. The hospital used the ‘ice pick’ method, which involved slipping a thin, pointed rod into the patient’s eye socket, and then a hammer was used to sever the connective tissue in the frontal lobe of the brain, which resulted in more than a few deaths. Lobotomies regularly left patients without a personality or affect, as their neural connections were severed. Some of these ‘therapies’ truly altered patient lives in a terrible way. Chlorpromazine, also known as Thorazine, was a medicine intended to treat psychotic disorders, but it was often prescribed to only keep patients in a catatonic state. Insulin shock therapy, which sent patients into comas, as well as electroconvulsive therapy, also known as shock treatment, was also employed by the staff at the asylum.

After the hospital closed in 1994, the only expansion ever built was a graveyard. These days, tours are offered of the hospital and the graveyard. The history of the hospital is told over and over again, creating a repetitive telling of some of the worst days of these spirit’s lives. It’s no wonder that the hospital is said to be haunted by patients of years gone by, unable to leave the hospital grounds, trapped at the asylum against their will, even after death.

Hauntings at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

According to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic asylum official website, there are about eight resident spirits living (not living?) at the asylum. The asylum was purchased about a decade ago by the family of Rebecca Jordan, and she says it didn’t take long before the asylum’s spectral patients paid a visit to her. While giving a tour of the facility, she felt someone grab her shoulder and squeeze.

Understanding spirits and what they went through makes it easier for them to communicate, but also creates a sense of empathy — these spirits are people who once had full lives, just as anyone else. There are a few choice locations throughout the asylum that are said to have activity. It’s no surprise, with such torture and neglect, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s dark history can’t help but shine through like dark sunbeams.

The Back Room

In a room toward the back end of one wing, a patient was murdered by two others. They attempted to hang him, but when that failed they placed his head under a bed frame and jumped on it until the bed frame touched the floor. Other patients were also murdered in cold blood by their peers, as overcrowding, mental illness, and poor care became a lethal combination for aggression. This room is known for its cold spots and quiet cries, which is said to be Dean, the man who was murdered in his room.

Isolation Cells

Asylum staff were empowered to send their patients into isolation if they were deemed ‘uncontrollable.’ This, of course, was up to the discretion of staff that was already irritated and overworked. Isolation was so terrible that patients would do just about anything to get out of it. One story, in particular, is especially surprising. A former boxer, who suffered from head injuries during his career that left him violent and emotionless attempted to beat down the metal door that isolated him. He ended up ripping the door off of its hinges, leaving visible dents in the steel. When he finally got the door off, he handed it to one of the nurses and calmly returned to his room. The rooms used most for isolation tend to have violent energies attached to them, with visitors reporting being pushed or scratched, as well as disembodied voices saying ‘get me out of here.’

Other Hauntings at the Asylum

More than a few ghosts are known to staff of the asylum, including Lily, a playful and friendly child spirit who is believed to have spent her entire life at the hospital. Back in the days of the asylum’s operation, pregnant women who were admitted would often give birth at the hospital, their baby living there with them throughout their stay. Lily is known for her laughter, as well as her interest in playing games with staff and visitors who pay her attention. She is an active part of the asylum community to this day.

Other experiences include dark shadows, objects moving on their own, disembodied voices and cries, bangs on the walls, and breaking glass, among others.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum operates today as a historic and ghostly tour hotspot. Haunting stories combined with the foreboding look of the structures create the contrasts that the asylum is well known for. The asylum itself was created with good intentions, and it was meant to treat people who needed care. Soon, it became misused, and the people it was originally meant to care for were abused. After closing its doors for good in 1994, it reopened to educate and tell the stories of the patients who lived their lives behind its walls. If you do choose to visit the asylum, don’t be surprised if you feel a strange chill or touch during your tour.

For more haunted asylums, check out our article about the Athens Mental Hospital in Ohio!

Sources Cited:

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/flipside/flipside_news/trans-allegheny-lunatic-asylum-one-of-wvs-most-haunted-spots-flipside/article_0d4c0df3-3268-5f47-8803-7b2382837947.html

Tickets & prices Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum

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Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The following overview lists the admission prices and various discounts and discount codes for a visit to Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston . All prices are displayed per age group or reduced rate group. You can also directly book your discounted online ticket for the Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum here, if available, or make a reservation to reserve a timeslot if applicable.

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Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Tour of old West Virginia asylum gives compelling glimpse of mental health history

Jim Barnes

“If only these walls could talk!”

The thought occurs to me as I'm led down the long, gloomy corridors of the building known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which housed thousands of patients over its 130-year history as a hospital for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.

But after hearing about the horrors that took place here, including patients who endured severe overcrowding, were shackled to walls or were victims of abuse, I realize that perhaps it is better that the walls remain silent.

The asylum stands on a lush, 300-acre parcel of land in what now is Weston, W.Va. The Virginia General Assembly authorized its construction in 1858, intending that it join its predecessors in Williamsburg and Staunton as the commonwealth's third such institution.

The outbreak of the Civil War brought a diversion of funds and a delay in construction. When the asylum admitted its first patients in 1864, it was under the governance of West Virginia, which was admitted to the Union the year before, having begun the process of becoming a separate state in 1861.

The asylum housed patients until 1994, when it was replaced by the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital, also in Weston. The abandoned hospital remained shuttered for more than a decade and fell hard into a state of neglect and disrepair.

Opened to the public

West Virginia businessman Joe Jordan and his family purchased the former asylum at auction in 2007, with the intention of preserving and restoring it. The facility was opened to the public later that year, sparking complaints about the use of the pejorative term “lunatic” in the name, and the controversial titles of such events as the “Psycho Path” and “Lobotomy Flashlight Tour.”

In news accounts at that time, mental-health advocates criticized the facility for exploiting people with mental illness and denigrating the field of psychology.

A spokeswoman for the asylum said that, although the facility went by several names over the years, the name Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was chosen simply because it was the facility's original name.

The facility now offers a variety of tours and experiences, including paranormal tours, 45- and 90-minute heritage tours, photography tours, ghost hunts and tours of the facility's farm, cemeteries and wards for the “criminally insane.” The year-long calendar of events features such diverse affairs as a drag show, barbecue championship, car show and haunted house, and the annual Asylum Ball.

Although the “Psycho Path” and “Zombie Flashlight Tour” have been discontinued, the asylum's calendar still includes special events with questionable names and themes, such as “Crazy for Barbecue” and “Zombie Paintball,” and the ghost tours spin tales of patients who lived — and died — there.

History straight up

I arrive for my tour of the asylum on a sunny but chilly day in early April, soon after the beginning of the spring tour season. I prefer my history straight up — no lost souls, disembodied voices or self-propelled objects — so I opt for the 90-minute heritage tour, which covers all four floors of the main hospital building and the first floor of the medical center.

While waiting for the tour to start, I watch a short film about the history of the asylum and browse through two front rooms that feature photos and displays commemorating the lives and works of Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride, 19th-century advocates for treating mentally ill people with dignity.

Dix was a social reformer whose tireless efforts led to the establishment of the nation's first public hospitals for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.

Kirkbride, a physician, pioneered the construction of asylums designed to promote healing and recovery, emphasizing the restorative properties of natural sunlight and beautifully landscaped grounds. His ideas influenced the design and construction of hundreds of such facilities, including St. Elizabeths Hospital in the District of Columbia as well as the asylum in Weston.

At the appointed time, a small group gathers inside the hospital's main entrance, where we are greeted by Lowther, our guide, who is dressed in an old-style nurse's uniform. At the outset, she addresses the issue of the facility's name.

Name changes

“Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum” was the name given the hospital by the Virginia General Assembly when it was established in 1858, she says. When West Virginia assumed control of the asylum in 1863, its name changed to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. By the early 1900s, it was known simply as Weston State Hospital, which Lowther acknowledges is more “politically correct.”

The setting is beautiful, and the hospital's exterior is stunning. The facility is aptly described on its Facebook page as appearing “more European castle than American hospital,” with an “imposing Gothic structure (that) exemplifies Victorian architecture at its finest.”

The building, designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1990, is indeed massively impressive. It spans nearly a quarter of a mile from end to end — 1,295 feet to be exact. Lowther informs us that the interior contains more than nine acres of floor space, with several wings extending from the building's central area. It is, she says, the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world. (The largest is the Kremlin.)

Lowther points out the athletic field on the front lawn, still equipped with a backstop where soldiers played baseball during the Civil War. Over the years, children from the town were allowed to play baseball and football there.

To one side is a hill, where three cemeteries serve as the final resting place for patients whose families never claimed their bodies — often because of the stigma associated with mental illness, Lowther says.

Greenhouses and a dairy barn were among the outbuildings that provided work for some of the patients. Whenever possible, they were given tasks that would give them a sense of accomplishment and reduce the need for paid staff, she says.

Only partially restored

When the tour moves inside, Lowther warns that it will be colder because we won't feel the sunshine anymore. She's right. The facility has only been partially restored, and the interior is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The long, dark corridors are flanked by walls with badly peeling paint, and water pools on the floors of some of the rooms.

The tour moves quickly through rooms that once served as the kitchen, dining areas, employee break room, morgue and geriatric men's ward. We pass the dentist's office, barber shop and beauty parlor. The Old Soldiers' Ward once housed World War I veterans suffering from what was then known as shell shock — a term that has been replaced by post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Lowther shows us the apothecary, where heroin, cannabis and bourbon were among the “medicines” that were dispensed to treat the patients.

A cross is displayed in the window of a large, empty auditorium, indicating that the room was once used as a chapel. The auditorium served multiple purposes, such as an athletic court, where boys from the town would play basketball against teams of patients. The local high school even held its proms there, Lowther says.

The upper floors include living areas for the patients, doctors and nurses. We pass a room that has been featured on television programs that focus on ghosts and the paranormal. Lowther says it is reputed to be one of the hospital's most haunted rooms, where she swears that she once saw a ball move by itself — a good teaser for one of the asylum's ghost tours.

Contrasts and contradictions

As Lowther leads us through the wings where the patients lived, it becomes apparent that the hospital is a study in contrasts and contradictions. It was conceived and constructed with good intentions and high ideals — respect for the dignity of each individual, with bright, airy living spaces, nicely decorated common areas, high-quality food service and an open campus — all of which were intended to promote healing and recovery.

The hospital was originally designed as a residence for 250 patients. Most would have a tiny, private room with a small bed and a window to let in natural daylight and provide a scenic view.

But the grim reality fell far short of those lofty ambitions.

Over time, the hospital became badly overcrowded, housing more than 2,600 patients at its peak occupancy in the 1950s, Lowther says. She tells us that the rooms and corridors were crammed with as many beds as they could hold. When the overcrowding was most severe, the same beds were used by multiple patients, sleeping in shifts.

One wing displays photos depicting some of the most controversial treatments that were used over the years: insulin-shock therapy, in which patients were placed in medically induced comas, ice-cold hydrotherapy to treat women diagnosed with hysteria, and “ice-pick lobotomies.”

The notorious lobotomies, which doctors performed for decades in the mid-20th century, involved the insertion of an instrument resembling an ice pick through patients' eye sockets to sever connections in their brains, usually destroying their personality as a result. The Weston facility was one where Walter Freeman, known as the “father of the lobotomy,” performed the controversial procedures, Lowther says.

Tasteful and respectful

Before the tour ends, she stops to talk about why people were committed to the asylum. It wasn't always because of mental illness. They might have had physical ailments such as asthma, epilepsy, rabies or tuberculosis. Some had suffered brain damage from being kicked by a horse.

The asylum's gift shop displays a poster — an enlargement of a document compiled from patient case studies listing some of the factors that led patients to be admitted to the asylum between 1864 and 1889. It includes such curious entries as “vicious vices in early life,” “seduction,” “egotism,” “bad whisky,” “indigestion,” “loss of arm,” “shooting of daughter” and “doubt about his mother's ancestors.”

In the 1800s, when women had few rights, it was easy for men to have their wives committed for the rest of their lives, she says, suggesting that this could have been a way for the men to get their wives out of the way so they could pursue new relationships. This might explain some of the entries documenting some of the underlying reasons behind hospital admissions: “change of life,” “menstrual problems” and “childbirth,” as well as political or religious “excitement,” “disappointed love,” “death of sons in war,” “domestic trouble,” “laziness” or “novel reading.”

The tour provides a fascinating look at the asylum and a glimpse into the lives of the people who resided and worked there. Despite my misgivings about the use of the term “lunatic” in the facility's moniker, and the names of some of the events, I feel that the heritage tour has generally been tastefully conducted and respectful of those who received care there.

The asylum does not have medical records of the patients who were admitted there, and I understand why their names or images are omitted from the tour. But the asylum's story is ultimately about people, and although the tour has left me wanting to know more about them, their secrets will never see the light of day.

Details: 304-269-5070 or trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com

Jim Barnes is a Washington Post contributing writer.

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15 Staggering Photos Of An Abandoned Asylum Hiding In West Virginia

west virginia mental hospital tour

Allison Burnell

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Next time you’re traveling through Weston, WV, make it a point to see The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). Previously named the Weston State Hospital, the TALA was a psychiatric hospital that operated from 1864 until 1994 by the state of West Virginia. Built by architect Richard Andrews, it was constructed from 1858-1881.

west virginia mental hospital tour

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west virginia mental hospital tour

With so much creepy history behind it, why wouldn’t you stop for a visit? A tour? Or maybe to donate to the restoration? What other creepy locations in West Virginia have you visited?

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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west virginia mental hospital tour

How many people are receiving mental health treatment in West Virginia

This story originally appeared on Wysa and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

More than 5 million American adults were receiving mental health treatment at a state-monitored mental health facility in 2022, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services released in April, an increase from last year.

However, access to treatment can largely depend on where someone lives or what kind of insurance they have. More than half of adults receiving treatment lived in just 10 states, as many Americans lack access to mental health care .

This year, as the Biden administration works to combat the mental health crisis spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded Medicare access to behavioral health services.

Wysa analyzed data compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to find which states had the highest rates of adults receiving mental health treatment. Each state's mental health administration reports the data individually. Maine did not report sufficient data and was excluded from this report.

west virginia mental hospital tour

States and communities take a patchwork approach to treatment

Nationwide, 15 out of every 1,000 people were receiving mental health treatment in 2022. However, disparities between states vary widely. In West Virginia, 7 out of every 1,000 residents are receiving mental health treatment, totaling 12,522 people. They make up 0.3% of all people receiving mental health treatment in the United States. Read the national analysis to see which states had the highest rates of people receiving mental health treatment.

People who live in rural states have high rates of people receiving mental health services at state-monitored facilities. Isolation, diminishing economic prospects, and the stigmatization of mental health conditions can lead to higher rates of depression in rural communities. In Iowa, where about one-third of its population lives in rural areas, an estimated 473,000 people have a mental health condition. However, the state ranked last in terms of psychiatric bed availability, with only 2 available beds per 100,000 residents.

Beyond access to care, each state runs its own mental health administration differently, including the types of facilities each state monitors. In Wisconsin, for instance, private facilities and individual practitioners are regulated, while Connecticut only regulates mental health treatments at what are known as private intermediate treatment facilities , or dedicated institutions for mental health treatments that don't require hospital-level care. Vast differences in the quality of treatment, with some facilities receiving more oversight than others, further stratify mental health care across the nation.

No matter how you measure it, the mental health crisis is impacting millions of Americans. Along with federal grants and initiatives, states and community organizations are taking individual steps to increase access to treatment.

In Montana, where 5 out of every 100 residents are receiving mental health treatments, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill last year allocating $300 million to improve and expand access to behavioral care. Last month, the state's behavioral health commission presented recommendations to divide the funds , including improving case management, expanding services, and recruiting and retaining mental health care specialists.

This story features data reporting and writing by Elena Cox and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 49 states and Washington D.C.

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West Virginia releases first comprehensive study on homelessness

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new study on homelessness released by the state Department of Human Services (DoHS) this week highlights the diverse demographics and challenges many people face across the state.

west virginia mental hospital tour

It’s the first comprehensive study of homelessness in the state required by state law.

SB 239, which lawmakers passed during the 2023 legislative session, required the Bureau for Behavioral Health to complete the study.

The study shows more than half (58%) of people experiencing homelessness are men. About 13% of homeless individuals in West Virginia identified as Black or African American, which is higher than the 3.7% of the total state population that identifies as Black or African American.

Nearly half (48%) of those experiencing homelessness were between the ages of 25 to 44, which Christina Mullins, Deputy Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders at DoHS, said is fairly younger.

“It also kind of aligns with what we see in some our overdose patterns, so we know that folks are going to be a lot more vulnerable in that age group to addiction and potential overdose as well,” Mullins told MetroNews Tuesday.

Mullins said there are complex drivers that are causing homelessness across the state. Mental health and addiction are the main reasons, but some have experienced an accident, the loss of a job, lack of affordable housing, being released from correctional facilities and other situations.

“Some of the folks talked about domestic violence, abusive childhoods, illness or disabilities or a lot of other traumas, but we also know from the study that mental health and substance use disorder were definitely also drivers of people experiencing homelessness,” she said.

The majority of individuals experiencing homelessness were long-term residents of West Virginia. Many cited the availability of services, proximity to family, and personal relationships as reasons for relocating to or within West Virginia. The study found most homeless individuals were located in larger cities near more services.

“Where there are more services, we also tend to have more people in those areas and we do have more people experiencing homelessness clustered in those areas,” Mullins said.

Often times, Mullins said these individuals are unaware of the help they can get.

“We’ve got to look at the gaps,” she said. “Some of the things that we saw are people not knowing how to access services, so we have to do a better job of communicating that and making that easily accessible,” she said.

Mullins said with the results of this study, DoHS and other state agencies are now better equipped to support the homeless population.

For more information, CLICK HERE .

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Step into a realm shrouded in the chilling echoes of forgotten whispers, where the corridors of what was once a revered institution have morphed into a playground of deranged malevolence. Here, a brilliant yet twisted physician has harnessed the very essence of his patients’ night terrors, breathing life into their most harrowing fears. The asylum, once a sanctuary of solace, now harbors the discarded remnants of society’s outcasts. Banished to the shadowy abyss within its walls, these forsaken souls have been sentenced to dance to the macabre symphony of the mad doctor’s sadistic desires. Watch as the tormented patients, teetering on the precipice of their own sanity, claw their way through the twisted labyrinth of their new existence. Their minds, caught between reality and delusion, plunge into a whirlpool of delirium, where the boundaries of perception dissolve like mist. Amidst the corridors, the fabric of reality itself seems to fracture, warping the seams of existence. Embark on a journey into this abyss of torment, where the lines between nightmares and reality blur beyond recognition. Dare to tread the path of the audacious and witness the transformation of patients into grotesque embodiments of the doctor’s most twisted imaginings. Survival is not guaranteed within this nightmarish odyssey. Prepare to test your own mettle as you navigate the sinister passages, where the air is thick with the residue of fear, and the essence of dread coats every surface. Are you prepared to confront the chilling specters that dwell at the very heart of your sanity? The choice to step into the world of “Torment” beckons — will you answer its call? Embrace the Darkness, Endure the Torment Please check the calendar for our open dates. On Thursdays and Sundays, tickets stop being sold at 9:30 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday nights at 11:30 p.m . The Asylum Haunted House is a work of fiction and is not based on any real life event or person. The scenes, characters, and events portrayed in this haunted house are for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as reality. All characters and scenes are purely fictional and any similarity to actual people or events is purely coincidental. Inhumane treatments and practices are illegal and punishable by law. We advise all visitors to be aware that the haunted house may contain frightening and intense scenes, and we advise against visiting if you have any medical conditions that could be triggered. Visitors enter at their own risk. By purchasing a ticket, you acknowledge and agree to these terms .

west virginia mental hospital tour

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Mental health, addiction drive homelessness in West Virginia, study finds

Located under a bridge in Wheeling, W.Va., the parking lot across the street from the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center has been home to many of the city’s homeless people. That will change soon as the state plans to close and clean the spot. The city has identified another place where unhoused people can be without threat of violating Wheeling’s camping ban. (Daniel Finsley | Finsley Creative for West Virginia Watch)

Many homeless people in West Virginia are long-term residents of the state, a comprehensive study of homelessness released earlier this week found. When people experiencing homelessness move here, it is often for services or to be near loved ones. 

The study , completed by the West Virginia University Health Affairs Institute for the Department of Human Services, was mandated by Senate Bill 239 , which passed during the 2023 legislative session. 

The bill required the study to be completed and submitted to lawmakers for consideration of legislation relating to the homeless in the state. Bill sponsors did not respond to a request for comment this week. 

“It will take some time for state and community leaders to read and understand the report before making policy recommendations based on this study,” Christina Mullins, DoHS deputy secretary of mental health and substance use disorders, wrote in response to written questions about the study. “However, early lessons learned indicate that the West Virginia Department of Human Services (DoHS), Bureau for Behavioral Health (BBH) can continue to assist this population to understand how to access mental health and addiction services.”

According to the study, people experiencing homelessness are concentrated in the state’s larger cities, where services are also most readily available. Service providers agreed that the resources available are not enough to adequately address existing need, the study said. 

West Virginia counties where there are restrictive policies like public camping bans, encampment removal and criminalizing trespassing tend to have higher numbers of homeless people, but the study did not determine which caused the other. 

A few West Virginia counties with interventional policies meant to help people move out of homelessness or prevent them from becoming homeless had very low numbers of people experiencing homelessness, but there could be other factors affecting populations in these communities, Mullins said. 

“While the study identified multiple policies that related to homelessness, data did not support analyses of how these policies affected the numbers of individuals experiencing homelessness,” Mullins wrote. 

The study also found that mental health and addiction are “significant drivers” of homelessness, Mullins wrote.

“However, the experiences leading to homelessness were complicated, with individuals often facing a combination of challenges such as domestic violence, abusive childhoods, catastrophic injury, a lack of affordable housing and unemployment,” she said.

The Department of Human Services said the next steps with the study will be to educate “stakeholders” about its findings and listen to feedback. 

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The post Mental health, addiction drive homelessness in West Virginia, study finds appeared first on West Virginia Watch .

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IMAGES

  1. Asylum

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  2. West Virginia Mental Hospital Photograph by Mark Serfass

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  3. Video: Haunted Hospital in West Virginia Turned into Tourist Attraction

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  4. Exploring the Abandoned Allentown State Hospital

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  5. West Virginia Mental Hospital

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  6. West Virginia Mental Hospital

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VIDEO

  1. The Haunting of Old Hospital: Part One

  2. Driving Tour

  3. Mammoth WVH

  4. An Impactful Year: CEO Jason Hooper Shares KVC Health Systems Highlights

  5. West Virginia Penitentiary Tour 2023

  6. New VA Mental Health Clinic to open in early 2024

COMMENTS

  1. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    Tour this National Historic Landmark! Welcome to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum located in Historic Weston, West Virginia. This National Historic Landmark served as a sanctuary for the mentally ill beginning in the mid-1800s. This 160-year-old asylum holds fascinating stories of Civil War raids, a gold robbery, the "curative" effects of architecture, and the efforts of determined ...

  2. Heritage & History Tours

    1st floor tour - south (45 min) An exciting journey with the 1st-floor South tour! Discover the southern part of the campus and explore the historic Civil War Section of the hospital. Experience a restored Patient ward, and delve into the impact of the Civil War on West Virginia. Gain insights into patient life, explore historical psychiatric treatments, and appreciate the architectural ...

  3. Haunted Hospital: Former W.Va. Mental Asylum Offers Historical and

    Photos by Betsy Bethel Tour-goers re-enter the main building of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, after visiting the nearby medical center.

  4. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum at Weston offers historical and paranormal tours year-round. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum at Weston, West Virginia, in Lewis County, was a psychiatric hospital that operated from 1864 until 1994, after which it became an important historical and paranormal tourist attraction.

  5. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was a psychiatric hospital located in Weston, West Virginia and known by other names such as West Virginia Hospital for the Insane and Weston State Hospital. The asylum was open to patients from October 1864 until May 1994.

  6. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. More European castle than American hospital, this former insane asylum offers historic and paranormal tours six days a week from April through October. Full Museum & Patient Art Gallery entry is included with your tour purchase. This Gothic National Historic Landmark holds 130 years of American history's dark side.

  7. History and Heritage Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    State Hospital) located in Historic Weston, West Virginia. This National Historic Landmark served as a sanctuary for the mentally

  8. Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (formerly Weston State ...

    Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (formerly Weston State Hospital) Weston, WV. This West Virginia facility served as a sanctuary for the mentally ill in the mid-1800's. The history of the building holds fascinating stories of Civil War raids, a gold robbery, the "curative" effects of architecture, and the efforts of determined individuals to ...

  9. Four Floor Historic Tour of Gothic Insane Asylum

    Four Floor Historic Tour of Gothic Insane Asylum. On this 90-minute guided tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA), experience 130 years of psychiatric history. Learn about the pioneers of humane treatment for the mentally ill and can visit the Civil War section or oldest part of the hospital. Visit the restored doctors' apartments ...

  10. In West Virginia, a moving, respectful tour of the Trans-Allegheny

    The beautiful building, now a National Historic Landmark, housed thousands of patients over its 130-year history.

  11. A Cultural Historian Explores an Old Mental Hospital, and Why They

    Renamed the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane by the new state government of West Virginia in 1863, it welcomed its first batch of 20 patients in fall 1864.

  12. West Virginia: Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, subsequently the Weston State Hospital, was a Kirkbride psychiatric hospital that was operated from 1864 until 1994 by the government of the U.S. state of West ...

  13. I Spent the Night in a Haunted Asylum and I Still Can't Explain What I

    I rolled into Weston, West Virginia, as the sun began to sink, making the lush Appalachian hills appear to glow. A century and a half ago, the area's beauty appealed to social reformers convinced of the healing powers of fresh air and rural landscapes. But even against the bucolic backdrop, the Gothic-style mental hospital they

  14. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum: West Virginia's Haunted Hospital

    The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV is part of the history of mental illness treatment- and it provides some creepy, spooky stories as well!

  15. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known as the Weston State Hospital, was a Kirkbride style psychiatric hospital that opened its doors to the public in 1864. The hospital is known for its hauntings and is one of the most haunted spots in the whole of West Virginia. The asylum keeps secrets dating back to the Civil War, holding them tightly within its stone walls. What could those ...

  16. Tour The Haunted Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia

    The site has been featured on SyFy's Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters Academy, and the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Challenge. The address for the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is 71 Asylum Drive, Weston, WV 26452. For more information or to book your tour, visit TALA's website or call (304)269-5070.

  17. Inside The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum And Its Haunting History

    When it opened its doors in 1864, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, renamed the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane and later Weston State Hospital, was a model of Thomas Kirkbride's ideals.

  18. Tickets & prices Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    Here are some tours and tickets near Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum, including discount cards & passes, skip the line tickets and tickets to events & activities in Weston. Find tickets and view all prices and discounts for Trans-allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston and buy tickets online.

  19. Ghost Tours

    Ghost Tours not for the faint of heart Thousands have been committed to the asylum over the years, and hundreds, unfortunately, died here. Decide for yourself if they're still occupying the histori…

  20. 21 Photos of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in WV

    Prepare to get the heebie-jeebies! The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, located in Weston, West Virginia, opened in 1864 to house the mentally ill and was forced to close down in 1994. Some of the reasons that people would be admitted to the Weston Asylum: the dreaded "female disease", laziness, birth control, and religious enthusiasm.

  21. Tour of old West Virginia asylum gives compelling glimpse of mental

    The thought occurs to me as I'm led down the long, gloomy corridors of the building known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which housed thousands of patients over its 130-year history as a hospital for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.

  22. 15 Creepy Photos Of An Abandoned Asylum in West Virginia

    Next time you're traveling through Weston, WV, make it a point to see The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). Previously named the Weston State Hospital, the TALA was a psychiatric hospital that operated from 1864 until 1994 by the state of West Virginia. Built by architect Richard Andrews, it was constructed from 1858-1881.

  23. How Many People Are Receiving Mental Health Treatment in West Virginia

    Nationwide, 15 out of every 1,000 people were receiving mental health treatment in 2022. However, disparities between states vary widely. In West Virginia, 7 out of every 1,000 residents are receiving mental health treatment, totaling 12,522 people.

  24. West Virginia releases first comprehensive study on homelessness

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new study on homelessness released by the state Department of Human Services (DoHS) this week highlights the diverse demographics and challenges many people face across the ...

  25. Football Mini-Packages and Single-Game Tickets On Sale

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- With the 2024 West Virginia University football season opener less than two months away, the Mountaineer Ticket Office has announced that mini-packages and single-game tickets are now on sale to the general public. Tickets are available for purchase online at WVUGAME.com, by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or in-person at the Mountaineer Ticket Office inside the WVU Coliseum.

  26. Haunted House

    Here, a brilliant yet twisted physician has harnessed the very essence of his patients' night terrors, breathing life into their most harrowing fears. The asylum, once a sanctuary of solace, now harbors the discarded remnants of society's outcasts. Banished to the shadowy abyss within its walls, these forsaken souls have been sentenced to ...

  27. Mental health, addiction drive homelessness in West Virginia, study finds

    Many homeless people in West Virginia are long-term residents of the state, a comprehensive study of homelessness released earlier this week found. When people experiencing homelessness move here, it is often for services or to be near loved ones. The study, completed by the West Virginia University Health Affairs Institute for the Department of Human […] The post Mental health, addiction ...