Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

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Weston State Hospital
Weston State Hospital.jpg
The Hospital's main building in 2006
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LocationAsylum Drive, Weston, West Virginia
Coordinates 39°02′19″N80°28′17″W / 39.03861°N 80.47139°W / 39.03861; -80.47139 Coordinates: 39°02′19″N80°28′17″W / 39.03861°N 80.47139°W / 39.03861; -80.47139
Area26.5 acres (10.7 ha)
BuiltConstructed 1858-1881. Opened to patients 1864.
Architect Richard Snowden Andrews
Architectural style Gothic Revival
Tudor Revival
Kirkbride Plan
NRHP reference # 78002805 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 19, 1978 [1]
Designated NHLJune 21, 1990 [2]

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, subsequently the Weston State Hospital, was a Kirkbride [3] psychiatric hospital that was operated from 1864 until 1994 by the government of the U.S. state of West Virginia, in the city of Weston. Weston State Hospital got its name in 1913 which was used while patients occupied it, but was changed back to its originally commissioned, unused name, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, after being reopened as a tourist attraction. [4] [5]

Kirkbride Plan hospital in Pennsylvania, United States

The Kirkbride Plan was a system of mental asylum design advocated by Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride (1809–1883) in the mid-19th century. The asylums built in the Kirkbride design, often referred to as Kirkbride Buildings, were constructed during the mid-to-late-19th century in the United States. The structural features of the hospitals as designated by Dr. Kirkbride were contingent on his theories regarding the healing of the mentally ill, in which environment and exposure to natural light and air circulation were crucial. The hospitals built according to the Kirkbride Plan would adopt various architectural styles, but had in common the "bat wing" style floor plan, housing numerous wings that sprawl outward from the center.

Psychiatric hospital hospitals or wards specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders

Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, mental health units, mental asylums or simply asylums, are hospitals or wards specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their size and grading. Some hospitals may specialize only in short term or outpatient therapy for low-risk patients. Others may specialize in the temporary or permanent care of residents who, as a result of a psychological disorder, require routine assistance, treatment, or a specialized and controlled environment. Patients are often admitted on a voluntary basis, but people whom psychiatrists believe may pose a significant danger to themselves or others may be subject to involuntary commitment. Psychiatric hospitals may also be referred to as psychiatric wards or units when they are a subunit of a regular hospital.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Contents

Built by architect Richard Andrews, it was constructed from 1858–1881. Originally designed to hold 250 people, it became overcrowded in the 1950s with 2,400 patients. It was forcibly closed in 1994 due to changes in patient treatment. The hospital was bought by Joe Jordan in 2007, and is opened for tours and other events to raise money for its restoration. [6] The hospital's main building is claimed to be one of the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States, and the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world, with the only bigger one being in the Moscow Kremlin. As Weston Hospital Main Building, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. [2] [7]

Stonemasonry The craft of creating buildings, structures, and sculpture using stone

Stonemasonry or stonecraft is the creation of buildings, structures, and sculpture using stone as the primary material. It is one of the oldest activities and professions in human history. Many of the long-lasting, ancient shelters, temples, monuments, artifacts, fortifications, roads, bridges, and entire cities were built of stone. Famous works of stonemasonry include the Egyptian Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, Cusco's Incan Wall, Easter Island's statues, Angkor Wat, Borobudur, Tihuanaco, Tenochtitlan, Persepolis, the Parthenon, Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China, Chartres Cathedral, and Pumapunku.

Moscow Kremlin fortified complex in Moscow, Russia

The Moscow Kremlin, or simply the Kremlin, is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. It is the best known of the kremlins and includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. In addition, within this complex is the Grand Kremlin Palace that was formerly the Tsar's Moscow residence. The complex now serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation and as a museum with 2,746,405 visitors in 2017.

National Historic Landmark formal designation assigned by the United States federal government to historic buildings and sites in the United States

A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Of over 90,000 places listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places, only some 2,500 are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.

History

19th century

The hospital was authorized by the Virginia General Assembly in the early 1850s as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. [8] Following consultations with Thomas Story Kirkbride, then-superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, a building in the Kirkbride Plan [9] was designed in the Gothic Revival and Tudor Revival styles by Richard Snowden Andrews (1830–1903), [1] [8] an architect from Baltimore whose other commissions included the Maryland Governor's residence in Annapolis and the south wing of the U.S. Treasury building in Washington. [10] Construction on the site, along the West Fork River opposite downtown Weston, began in late 1858. Work was initially conducted by prison laborers; a local newspaper in November of that year noted "seven convict negroes" as the first arrivals for work on the project. Skilled stonemasons were later brought in from Germany and Ireland. [9]

Virginia General Assembly legislative body of Virginia, United States

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia's clerk is known as the "Clerk of the Senate".

Allegheny Mountains mountain range

The Allegheny Mountain Range, informally the Alleghenies and also spelled Alleghany and Allegany, is part of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range of the Eastern United States and Canada and posed a significant barrier to land travel in less technologically advanced eras. The barrier range has a northeast–southwest orientation and runs for about 400 miles (640 km) from north-central Pennsylvania, through western Maryland and eastern West Virginia, to southwestern Virginia.

Thomas Story Kirkbride American psychiatrist

Thomas Story Kirkbride was a physician, advocate for the mentally ill, and founder of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII), a precursor to the American Psychiatric Association.

Construction was interrupted by the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Following its secession from the United States, the government of Virginia demanded the return of the hospital's unused construction funds for its defense. Before this could occur, the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry seized the money from a local bank, delivering it to Wheeling. It was put towards the establishment of the Reorganized Government of Virginia, which sided with the northern states during the war. The Reorganized Government appropriated money to resume construction in 1862. Following the admission of West Virginia as a U.S. state in 1863, the hospital was renamed the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. The first patients were admitted in October 1864, but construction continued into 1881. The 200-foot (61 m) [11] central clock tower was completed in 1871, and separate rooms for black people were completed in 1873. [8] [9] [10] The hospital was intended to be self-sufficient, [10] and a farm, dairy, waterworks, and cemetery were located on its grounds, [8] which ultimately reached 666 acres (270  ha ) in area.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

7th Ohio Infantry

The 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment formed in northeastern Ohio for service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It served in the Eastern Theater in a number of campaigns and battles with the Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac, and was then transferred to the Western Theater, where it joined the Army of the Cumberland besieged at Chattanooga. It is of the 7th regiment that a war historian wrote, "All in all, considering the number of its battles, its marches, its losses, its conduct in action, it may be safely said that not a single regiment in the United States gained more lasting honor or deserved better of its country than the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry.”

Wheeling, West Virginia City in West Virginia, United States

Wheeling is a city in Ohio and Marshall counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located almost entirely in Ohio County, of which it is the county seat, it lies along the Ohio River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Wheeling was originally a settlement in the British colony of Virginia and later an important city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Wheeling was the first state capital of West Virginia. Due to its location along major transportation routes, including the Ohio River, National Road, and the B&O Railroad, Wheeling became a manufacturing center in the late nineteenth century. After experiencing the closing of factories and substantial population loss following World War II, Wheeling's major industries now include healthcare, education, law and legal services, entertainment and tourism, and energy.

20th century

A gas well was drilled on the hospital grounds in 1902. [9] Its name was again changed to Weston State Hospital in 1913. [8]

Natural gas fossil fuel

Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium. It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas.

Originally designed to house 250 patients in solitude, the hospital held 717 patients by 1880; 1,661 in 1938; over 1,800 in 1949; at its peak, 2,600 in the 1950s in overcrowded conditions. A 1938 report by a survey committee organized by a group of North American medical organizations found that the hospital housed "epileptics, alcoholics, drug addicts and non-educable mental defectives" among its population. A series of reports by The Charleston Gazette in 1949 found poor sanitation and insufficient furniture, lighting, and heating in much of the complex, while one wing, which had been rebuilt using Works Progress Administration funds following a 1935 fire started by a patient, was comparatively luxurious. [9]

Epilepsy human neurological disease causing seizures

Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable periods to long periods of vigorous shaking. These episodes can result in physical injuries, including occasionally broken bones. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur and, as a rule, have no immediate underlying cause. Isolated seizures that are provoked by a specific cause such as poisoning are not deemed to represent epilepsy. People with epilepsy may be treated differently in various areas of the world and experience varying degrees of social stigma due to their condition.

Alcoholism Broad term for problems with alcohol

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in mental or physical health problems. The disorder was previously divided into two types: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. In a medical context, alcoholism is said to exist when two or more of the following conditions are present: a person drinks large amounts of alcohol over a long time period, has difficulty cutting down, acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of time, alcohol is strongly desired, usage results in not fulfilling responsibilities, usage results in social problems, usage results in health problems, usage results in risky situations, withdrawal occurs when stopping, and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use. Risky situations include drinking and driving or having unsafe sex, among other things. Alcohol use can affect all parts of the body, but it particularly affects the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and immune system. This can result in mental illness, Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, irregular heartbeat, an impaired immune response, liver cirrhosis and increased cancer risk, among other diseases. Drinking during pregnancy can cause damage to the baby resulting in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Women are generally more sensitive than men to the harmful physical and mental effects of alcohol.

Works Progress Administration largest and most ambitious United States federal government New Deal agency

The Works Progress Administration was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was established on May 6, 1935, by Executive Order 7034. In a much smaller project, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. The four projects dedicated to these were: the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP), the Historical Records Survey (HRS), the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), the Federal Music Project (FMP), and the Federal Art Project (FAP). In the Historical Records Survey, for instance, many former slaves in the South were interviewed; these documents are of great importance for American history. Theater and music groups toured throughout America, and gave more than 225,000 performances. Archaeological investigations under the WPA were influential in the rediscovery of pre-Columbian Native American cultures, and the development of professional archaeology in the US.

Weston State Hospital found itself to be the home for the West Virginia Lobotomy Project in the early 1950s. This was an effort by the state of West Virginia and Walter Freeman to use lobotomy to reduce the number of patients in asylums because there was severe overcrowding. [5]

By the 1980s, the hospital had a reduced population due to changes in the treatment of mental illness. Those patients who could not be controlled were often locked in cages. In 1986, then-Governor Arch Moore announced plans to build a new psychiatric facility elsewhere in the state and convert the Weston hospital to a prison. [9] Ultimately the new facility, the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital, was built in Weston and the old Weston State Hospital was simply closed in May 1994. [8] The building and its grounds have since been mostly vacant, aside from local events such as fairs, church revivals, and tours. [9] In 1999, all four floors of the interior of the building were damaged by several city and county police officers playing paintball, [12] three of whom were dismissed over the incident.

Efforts towards adaptive reuse of the building have included proposals to convert the building into a Civil War Museum [8] and a hotel and golf course complex. [11] A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee, was formed in 2000 for the purpose of aiding the preservation of the building and finding appropriate tenants. [13]

21st century

Three small museums devoted to military history, toys, and mental health were opened on the first floor of the main hospital building in 2004, but were soon forced to close due to fire code violations. [11]

The hospital was auctioned by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on August 29, 2007. Joe Jordan, an asbestos demolition contractor from Morgantown, was the high bidder and paid $1.5 million for the 242,000-square-foot (22,500 m2) building. Bidding started at $500,000. [14] Joe Jordan has also begun maintenance projects on the former hospital grounds. In October 2007, a Fall Fest was held at the Weston State Hospital. Guided historic and paranormal daytime tours were offered as well as evening ghost hunts and paranormal tours. [15]

The main building of the asylum, known as the Kirkbride, holds several rooms that serve as the museum, located on the first floor. There are paintings, poems, and drawings made by patients in the art therapy programs, a room dedicated to the different medical treatments and restraints used in the past, and artifacts such as a straitjacket and hydrotherapy tub. The tour guides dress in clothes that resemble 19th century nurse outfits; blue dress, white apron, white cap, and white shoes. The shorter historical tour offer allows visitors to see the first floor of the Kirkbride, while the longer historical tour allows visitors to see all four floors, apartments of the staff, the morgue, and the 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. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Clarinda Treatment Complex was built in 1884 as the Clarinda State Hospital in Clarinda, Iowa in southwest Iowa. It was the third asylum in the state of Iowa. The hospital's many name variations include: The Clarinda Lunatic Asylum, The Clarinda State Asylum, The Clarinda Asylum for the Insane, and The Clarinda Mental Health Institute. It was built under the Kirkbride Plan. The original plan for patients was to hold alcoholics, geriatrics, drug addicts, mentally ill, and the criminally insane. In 2009, it was made public that, to save money, the state may close one of the four hospitals in Iowa. On June 30, 2015, the hospital facility was shut down and all patient services terminated. The Clarinda Academy, owned by Sequel Youth Services, is the sole occupant of the former hospital grounds.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. 1 2 "Weston Hospital Main Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  3. "Weston State Hospital - Kirkbride Buildings". www.kirkbridebuildings.com.
  4. Gerald, Swick (28 September 2015). "Weston State Hospital". The West Virginia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. 1 2 3 Johnson, Jenell. American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History. University of Michigan Press. pp. 152, 162, 164–165, 168–169. ISBN   978-0-472-03665-3.
  6. "Old asylums decay, while some strive for restoration". The Baltimore Sun . 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2008-08-03.[ dead link ]
  7. West Virginia SHPO and Carolyn Pitts (January 10, 1990). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Weston Hospital Main Building / The Lunatic Asylym West of the Alleghany Mountains / West Virginia Hospital for the Insane" (pdf). National Park Service.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Swick, Gerald D. (2006). "Weston State Hospital". In Ken Sullivan (ed.). The West Virginia Encyclopedia. Charleston, W.Va.: West Virginia Humanities Council. p. 779. ISBN   0-9778498-0-5.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee (2005). "Hospital History". Archived from the original on 2001-07-13. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  10. 1 2 3 Historic West Virginia: The National Register of Historic Places. Charleston, W.Va.: West Virginia Division of Culture and History: State Historic Preservation Office. 2000. pp. 74–75.
  11. 1 2 3 Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee (2005). "Hospital News". Archived from the original on 2001-08-13. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  12. Post Gazette (1999-06-20). "A Town Sees Red Over Police Vandalism". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  13. Weston Hospital Revitalization Committee (2005). "About WHRC". Archived from the original on 2006-11-20. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  14. "Morgantown contractor buys old Weston State Hospital". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 2007-08-29.[ permanent dead link ]
  15. "Paranormal tours and Ghost Hunts TRANS-ALLEGHENY LUNATIC ASYLUM". trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com. Retrieved 2017-09-20.