Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum


I traveled out to Weston, West Virginia recently to do a photo tour of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  The asylum was constructed between 1858 and 1891 and is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America.  It was designed by architect Richard Allen after the Kirkbride plan.  The Kirkbride plan was a design psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbridge called “the moral plan”.   It consisted of long staggering wings consisting of individual rooms that brought light and fresh air to the patients.  The Kirkbride plan is known as a building designed to cure and ornate architectural details.

When the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was partially built the Civil War broke out  and in 1861 the Union Army, Seventh Infantry from Ohio, marched into town and made the partially built asylum into Fort Tyler until 1864 when the first patients arrived. The asylum originally housed 250 patients.  By the 1950’s it held 2,500 patients.  It was closed in 1994 and privately bought in 2004 where continuing care and renovation is taking place to preserve this National Historic Landmark.

There are very few Kirkbride asylum’s left. Most have been sold off and demolished.  I really could not wait to photograph one of the last remaining ones.  I highly recommend a visit to the asylum.  The Owner’s conduct historical, paranormal and photography tours.  I spent 8 hours photographing the place and loved every minute of it.  The photograph above is one of the dormitory bathrooms in the main building.  Love that peeling paint!


8 thoughts on “Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    • Thank you Alexis! The Owners of the asylum run photo tours four times a year. I believe the next one is in July. You can take a four hour morning or afternoon for $100 or sign up for both for 8 hours for $150. I recommend taking both at $150 because you photograph 4 floors in the main building and then move onto three other buildings. The afternoon session allows you to capture what you missed because you run out of time!

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