Last year after The Blog Tech and I left the Ramp Festival, we decided to take back roads home to see what we could see. We do this as often as possible because without exception, we usually see something very interesting. As we were tooling along, looking for ramps and whatnot we suddenly came upon this huge building in a tiny town in West Virginia. We weren't quite sure what we were seeing and there were few signs other than Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. We drove around the perimeter taking pics and were totally freaked out when we saw patients shuffling around in pajamas. Feets don't fail me now....we were out of there! When we got home we researched it and were determined to return there this year.
Thinking that ramps might work like garlic to ward off evil beings, we consumed as many as possible, took The Fiance and headed to the asylum. Click any photo for a closer look. We signed up for a tour. This is the main entrance to the TALA. The asylum had just opened for tours a month before. Apparently, when we were there last year, they were planning out how they might run tours and had actors playing patients. Hey, it worked on us!
The entire building is very dark and has been since it was built. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
This is the second largest sandstone building in the world second only to the Kremlin.
The room with the small balcony housed the nurses that worked there. They worked 14 hour days with only 1 day off each month. They were paid 12 dollars a week and it cost them 12.00 a month to live there. They were not allowed to have children or be married.
It took next to nothing to be committed to institutions like this one. I will show you a list of reasons in a future post. Basically, once you were in, there was no getting out. This place was initially designed to accommodate 250 patients, when it closed in 1994 (yes, that is the right date), it held 2500 patients.
This building was added to accommodate the tuberculosis epidemic. There are caged in balconies on either end of the building on each floor and patients were wheeled out there in cold weather to breathe the fresh air. It was later discovered that this treatment actually worsened TB.
The sandstone for the building came from the surrounding hills. The stone was cut and carved by Irish and German stone masons.
The rear of the building. This was a self sustaining institution. They had their own farms, coal mine, hospital, etc. and were so independent that the depression had little effect on the asylum.
This is the morgue. The nurse is standing in front of one of the body storage units. This is the usual way the patients left this asylum. Most bodies were unclaimed and the asylum has 3 cemeteries.
I will have more tomorrow. We took so many photos that we filled the camera and had to use our phones towards the end of the tour.