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.