Uncover the Secrets of Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV

An Architectural Marvel in the Heart of Weston, West Virginia

Nestled on Asylum Drive in the quaint city of Weston, West Virginia, lies an imposing structure steeped in history – the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Once a beacon of mental health care, this monumental building now stands as a testament to the changing perceptions and treatments of mental illness.

Crafted in the styles of Gothic Revival, Tudor Revival, and Jacobean Revival, this edifice is a captivating sight that draws locals and visitors alike. Constructed between 1858 and 1881, the renowned Baltimore architect Richard Snowden Andrews designed the asylum.

The asylum’s main building proudly touted as one of the most significant hand-cut stone masonry structures in the United States and the second-largest hand-cut sandstone building globally, is a sight to behold.

A Storied Past: Asylum to State Hospital

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum‘s journey began in the mid-19th century when the Virginia General Assembly authorized its construction.

Upon its inception, the asylum was designed to house 250 patients, but as the years passed, it became a victim of its success. By the 1950s, the institution was overcrowded, accommodating 2,400 patients.

In 1913, the asylum was renamed the Weston State Hospital, a name it retained while patients occupied it. However, it reverted to its original name after converting into a tourist attraction.

Timeline of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Date Event
1858-1881 Construction of the Asylum
1864 Opening to patients
1913 The name changed to Weston State Hospital
1994 Closure of the institution
2007 Purchased by Joe Jordan
2007-Present Opened for tours and events

The Darker Side of History: Overcrowding and Controversial Treatments

As the population within the asylum’s walls burgeoned, it faced numerous challenges, including a staff shortage and beds.

The reasons for admission varied, from medical conditions like asthma to behavioral issues like laziness and egotism. Unfortunately, the surge in patient numbers resulted in a severe shortage of necessary care resources.

The 20th century it marked a grim period in the asylum’s history, with the facility often housing “epileptics, alcoholics, drug addicts, and non-educable mental defectives” among its population.

The hospital also became infamous for the West Virginia Lobotomy Project in the early 1950s, an attempt to reduce overcrowding through lobotomies.

A New Chapter: From Asylum to Tourist Attraction

Despite its fraught history, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum has found a new lease on life in the 21st century.

In 2007, Joe Jordan, an asbestos demolition contractor, purchased the institution and transformed it into a unique tourist attraction. Visitors can now embark on guided historical and paranormal tours, experiencing the asylum’s rich history and rumored hauntings firsthand.

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The asylum also hosts several small museums that showcase military history, toys, and mental health. Among the exhibits are art pieces created by past patients, offering a rare glimpse into their experiences and emotions.

Haunted Activity

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is not just a place of historical significance. Over the years, it has also gained notoriety for its paranormal activity, becoming a popular destination for thrill-seekers and ghost hunters.

The massive, hand-cut stone masonry building that once housed thousands of patients now offers visitors an eerie and unnerving atmosphere, making it a hotbed for reported paranormal experiences.

Guests and staff have reported apparition sightings, disembodied voices, and strange sounds that echo through the now-empty corridors and wards of the asylum. In addition, visitors have described feeling sudden cold spots, hearing the clatter of unseen objects, and even seeing shadowy figures darting through the hallways.

One of the key attractions at the asylum is the ghost tours and hunts. Visitors can opt for a paranormal tour that starts as the sun sets, with choices between a shorter 2-3 hour tour or an overnight experience.

These tours are not for the faint-hearted, as visitors are encouraged to delve into the asylum’s haunted past and decide if the spirits of those who lived and died within these walls still linger.

The Kirkbride, the asylum’s main building, is primarily targeted during these paranormal investigations. Visitors are allowed to explore this area with the assistance of guides experienced in ghost hunting.

The guides ensure the visitors have a positive and safe evening while trying to contact the unseen. Visitors are encouraged to bring their paranormal investigation equipment, such as cameras, digital recorders, and EMF meters.

Private ghost hunts are also available for a more exclusive experience. These are particularly popular with experienced ghost-hunting groups who wish to explore the building undisturbed by other investigators. These eight-hour private sessions last 8 hours, giving the groups ample time to roam the building and investigate their favorite hot spots.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, with its dark and storied past, offers an unparalleled experience for those interested in the paranormal.

Whether it’s the chilling experiences reported by visitors or the spine-tingling thrill of an overnight ghost hunt, the asylum continues to captivate and intrigue those who dare to step within its haunted walls​.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia has captured the public’s imagination. It has made its mark in popular culture due to its eerie history and alleged paranormal activities.

The asylum’s grand architecture, unique history, and reported hauntings have made it an intriguing subject for paranormal investigators, enthusiasts, filmmakers, and authors.

Film and Television

One of the most notable mentions of the asylum in popular culture is its appearance in various television shows focused on paranormal activities.

The asylum, featured on several ghost-hunting TV shows like SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters Academy, the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal Challenge, has had numerous reports of unexplainable phenomena.

Investigators have spent nights in the building recording their experiences and attempting to capture evidence of paranormal activity.


The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum has also found its way into literature. The rich history and chilling tales have provided a fitting backdrop for authors who want to instill their work with a sense of unease or horror.

In summary, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s haunting past and enduring presence have firmly entrenched it within popular culture, cementing its status as a place of intrigue, mystery, and fascination.

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