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4.5
143 votes

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

50 S. River Ave., Weston, West Virginia 26452 USA

$$
$$$$
Reasonable
Closed Now
Opens Sat 10a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
Add to Trip

“Former home to the mentally ill”

There's tons of abandoned asylums dotted throughout the USA — remnants of a time when mental health was still something misunderstood by medical professionals, and where many of the treatments were truly barbaric. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV was one of those facilities.

Construction on the building began in 1858, and continued until 1861 when it was interrupted by the beginning of the Civil War.

The building, which was designed in the Kirkbride Plan style, was self-sufficient, meaning it had its own farm, waterworks, and even a cemetery located on the 666 acres of land (spooky!). The long staggered "wings" of the asylum were built specifically to bring in fresh-air and sunlight, and to give patients privacy, which was something many were not used to during that time period. By October 1864, before construction was officially complete the first patients were admitted and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was a success.

The pre-asylum era for people suffering from mental illness was a terrible and cruel time period. Many without families were locked in prisons alongside criminals, often times chained to walls, naked and in terrible conditions regardless of the season. Those who did have families were shamefully hidden away in attics, basements, and even holes in the ground, so as not to embarrass their families. By the 1800s things began to change, and thanks to reformers like Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride, metal illness began to be seen as something treatable instead of condemning.

Initially the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was only supposed to hold 250 patients, but at its peak in 1949 the asylum was holding upwards of 2,600 people in dangerously overcrowded conditions. At the time the hospital was home to people being treated for various conditions including, "epileptics, alcoholics, drugs addicts, and non-educable mental defectives", but by 1949 local newspapers were reporting on the poor sanitization and dangerous conditions at the hospital. Unable to keep its doors open any longer, Trans-Allegheny officially closed in May of 1994.

For many years the asylum had a reputation for being an extremely dangerous and violent place with many reports of patients attacking and even killing one another. There are stories of female employees who were raped and killed by patients not being properly monitored thanks to overcrowding and understaffing. One woman's body was even discovered after two months at the bottom of an unused staircase, where she had been killed and dumped.

Many believe that all of this death and violence that took place inside the hospital helped to create one of the most haunted buildings in the country, and often visitors report having run-ins with spirits still trapped inside. Many of those experiences include the sound of gurneys being moved, screams coming from inside the electro-shock room when there is no one else around, and strange shadows. The most active part of the building is rumored to be the fourth floor, where many have experienced banging, screaming, and even the spirit of a soldier named Jacob who has been seen walking the empty corridors in the night.

In 2007 the building was bought at auction for $1.5 million and even though the National Historic Landmark offer both historical tours and ghost tours, the survival of the building is still at risk. Guests are invited to take one (or all) of the 5 unique historical tours, and fans of the paranormal are in luck because TALA offers 8-hour ghost hunts of different wards depending on what you're interested in.

Historical tours run between March 29th to November 2nd, but make sure to book your appointment ahead of time. The hospital offers day time ghost hunts, and flashlight tours that will run you anywhere between 10 to 40 bucks, which for a 2 hour guided tour is pretty darn awesome.

Trans-Allegheny is one of those places you have to see to believe, and knowing that all the money goes towards the restoration and preservation of a National Historic Landmark is a pretty awesome too. With Halloween season just around the corner it's the perfect place to get scared in the name of preserving history! -Roadtrippers

Formerly known as the Weston State Hospital, 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. Tour this nationally recognized landmark and see how it left a lasting impression on local and national history. Daily heritage tours are available for both small and large groups.

The Asylum has had apparition sightings, unexplainable voices and sounds, and other paranormal activity reported in the past by guests, staff, SyFy's Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters Academy, the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Challenge. Step back in time and see how the mentally insane lived, and died, within these walls.

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.

Have you been curious about the possible paranormal activity in the other buildings at the facility? Due to popular demand, we are having an investigation of the Medical Center, the Forensics and the Geriatrics Buildings. The investigation time will be divided to ensure each group has time in each of the three buildings. This hunt will last from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Ever thought about spending the night in a haunted lunatic asylum? Our Ghost Hunts last from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (excludes October hunts). After everyone is registered and divided into groups, guides will assist you in your exploration of this massive gothic asylum.

After a brief paranormal tour you may either hunt alone or with our experienced ghost hunting guides. Our guides are here to ensure that you have a positive and safe evening.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. It was designed by the renowned architect Richard Andrews following the Kirkbride plan, which called for long rambling wings arranged in a staggered formation, assuring that each of the connecting structures received an abundance of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air. The original hospital, designed to house 250 souls, was open to patients in 1864 and reached its peak in the 1950's with 2,400 patients in overcrowded and generally poor conditions. Changes in the treatment of mental illness and the physical deterioration of the facility forced its closure in 1994 inflicting a devastating effect on the local economy, from which it has yet to recover.

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Reviewed by
Dana Newkirk

  • Road Warrior
  • 299 Reviews
  • 308 Helpful
August 23, 2014

There are seriously so many tours to take at Trans Allegheny. If you're a fan of history they've got a bunch of different tours you can take of the wards. If you love spooky ghost stuff there are day and night tours, and during the Halloween season loads of weekend ghost hunts that can last up to 7 hours. It's one of the coolest historical landmarks, and has a fascinating and rich history that anybody can enjoy. I totally recommend spending an afternoon exploring the dark, creepy hallways!

Plus, you cash goes towards helping restore a pretty awesome building, which is always a nice bonus!

6 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
brandon.mathess

  • 1 Review
  • 5 Helpful
October 27, 2013

Great place to visit. The main building is open during the summer for historical and ghost tours. In one of the other buildings on the property they have an amazing haunted house in the fall. Its def worth a stop.

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
mark.ewell.3

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
October 10, 2014

What an experience! We took the "All Four Floors" and left amazed. Our most excellent tour guide showed an in-depth knowledge of the place and clearly knew his stuff. We would recommend a tour if you are ever in the area!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Austin Coop

  • 493 Reviews
  • 395 Helpful
September 16, 2014

Now is the perfect time to see this place as some is restored and some isn't. Our tour was informative and quick. The place is remarkable just for its sheer size. If you're anywhere near this place on a road trip it is well worth stopping. If you're really into this stuff, they offer all sorts of extended tour options. You can even spend the night!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Steroidcenterusa

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
May 13, 2014

loved it here was so amazing and learned so much about the history of this place!!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
jeane.kennedy

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
January 16, 2014

what an awesome experience this was.....can't wait to do it again.......spoooooky!!!!!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
linda.tobiassoden

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 25, 2013

so interesting and super they are preserving this place....

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
heather.baileyjones

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 25, 2013

They were making renovations when I drove passed there 6 months or so ago. With the repairs going on it should be a great hunt.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
cclady

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
June 23, 2013

Stopped on a whim and was wonderfully suprised by this place. Impressive, good tour and worth stopping if you like history. Since I was short on time I would like to return and take the complete tour.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
stefanie.a.foley

  • 3 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
March 21, 2017

I love this place!!!!

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Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

50 S. River Ave.
Weston, West Virginia
26452 USA

Hours

Closed Now
  • Mon - Fri: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  • Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Sun: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Is there a problem with this listing? Let us know.

  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi
  • Private Parking
  • Free Parking

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