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Points of Interest

Dejarnette Children's Asylum

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Staunton, Virginia USA

  • Abandoned Place

Tip: review this place & help build a better community!

This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner.

Founded in 1932 as a private pay unit of the Western State Hospital, the DeJarnette Center for Human Development (formally the DeJarnette State Sanitorium) was named after Dr. Joseph DeJarnette, a prominent Virginia psychiatrist and strong supporter of eugenics, particularly the compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill.
The real horrors of Dejarnette came from the doctor that gave the hospital its name. Dr. Joseph Dejarnette gained a reputation for human experiments. He would often take the blood from the most hyperactive children and inject it into those who were depressed. He was also known for roaming the halls while quoting Adolf Hitler, claiming that human sterilization was his greatest work. 

Because of these experiments, and the strange sightings that have occurred on the premises since, many paranormal investigators now believe that the building is haunted.

The old DeJarnette Center, seen in 2011 In 1975, the Commonwealth of Virginia assumed responsibility for the entire complex, and it was renamed "The DeJarnette Center for Human Development".

The institution maintained financial independence from its foundation in 1932 until it was re-formatted in 1975, and at that time, was absorbed into the state-managed health-care system as it existed in the 1970s. At the time of the conversion, patients above the age of 21 were transferred to the relatively new campus of Western State Hospital, which had moved from downtown Staunton to its current location (parallel to the DeJarnette Center, on the opposite side of Richmond Road) during the early 1960s. As a matter of practicality, and perhaps to inaugurate the official transition from private to public funding, the cafeteria of the late 1940s was demolished and a new two-story building was constructed with an open lobby and cafeteria on the first floor, and administrative offices on the second floor. This final addition to the DeJarnette Center connected the original two buildings of the sanitorium, which were constructed in 1932 and 1938.

1981 was a year of drastic change for the Center. In early 1981, the DeJarnette Center for Human Development began an effort to service patients throughout the year; prior to that time, the young patients were sent to their parents' homes or therapeutic foster homes each weekend and went for extended visits during the summer to their parents' homes. Additionally, the former Adolescent Unit of Western State Hospital was shut down, and minors of adolescent age were permanently transferred to the DeJarnette Center. This was the apex of the scope and size of the DeJarnette Center. A concrete above-ground pool was constructed, and was in operation until the late 1980s, at which time insurance costs became excessive.

In late 1987, the stock markets crashed, and the resulting economic turmoil expressed a terrible strain upon the taxpayer-supported funding of many public programs operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia at that time. By 1990, the impact of severe budget cuts became evident; facilities such as the DeJarnette Center, and the quality and relative luxuries (such as the swimming pool) of state-funded hospital operations, collapsed into a cesspool of underfunded community-based operations. Mental health care and services provided for by the Commonwealth of Virginia would never again see the funding priority which they had held during the 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1996, the DeJarnette Center relocated to a new 48-bed facility, adjacent to the grounds of Western State Hospital.

In 2004, plans were made to demolish the original DeJarnette complex, and to replace it with a shopping mall and parking lot. However, plans for the project fell through when not enough tenants were secured for the proposed mall. As of 2011, the campus of the former DeJarnette Center for Human Development still exists, though in a considerable state of disrepair.

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July 20, 2015

Very cool. Originally we were directed to the old Common Wealth of Children and Adolescence, and even though these buildings are shut down and abandoned, the actual Asylum is across Hwy 250 from there. It's actually on George M Cochran Pkwy. You'll pass one gate that's locked up, but keep driving around the back and you can actually pull up into the driveway to take you on the grounds. We were able to get better directions from the Asylum's facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dejarnette-Childrens-Asylum/201660246549161?fref=ts
The only fence is right at the main front door but no where else, so you can get right up on the building. It's boarded up pretty tight. There was one board taken out in the back that you can get into the building from. Or a good drill can take the screws out of the boards. We didn't go inside just because we're chicken of the law and it was day time, but I wish we had.

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January 2, 2015

I can say there were a lot of strange things that happened there.

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Cary Underwood

Cary Underwood in reply to on January 24, 2015

What all happened there? This place fascinates me. I really wanna get into it.

January 2, 2015

I was a patient at this hospital from 11.5 until I was 13. I remember the building that was "abandoned" for reasons never explained to me. I use to try to escape by running through the immense field. I could walk you through almost the entire building.

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AddisonMcKinney in reply to on October 24, 2016

Hi Rebbekkah, Myself and a fellow photographer are very interested in having a tour. Could you shoot us an email? deepexposurephotography@yahoo.com thanks!


dainsworth in reply to on July 22, 2016

Rebekah and/or Victoria. I am considering doing a story on the asylum. Would either of you be interested in an interview? If so, please email dainsworth at iCloud.com. Thanks!

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March 24, 2014

While it is impossible to legally get close, it was right off the highway and we got some great photos. Don't go too far out of our way, but if this is on your way it's worth stopping by.

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Rated 3.0 September 24, 2016

I remember this place very well i was a patient there around 4 years old up to 6 years old, There was a lot of crazy stuff going on while I was there. Alot of visits from doctors and nurses for no reason. They locked you up in a room for hours with just a bed and maybe a book every once in a while.

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Rated 5.0 August 22, 2016

Very easy to get close, even though I didn't. Very interesting and fun. My friends got close and said they could almost get in, and could see papers and posters still on the wall.
Great way to end a trip to Stauton.

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July 28, 2016

Does anyone know the land owner?

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January 2, 2015

I also remember the staff there. they were ok.I remember pending a lot of time in the green seclusion rooms n the bottom floor

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