Vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape for more than half the nation's
history. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built
throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients.
Opened to patients in 1864, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston WV was originally designed to
house 250 souls, 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. For several decades, the hospital was extremely violent, with frequent reports of patients killing
other patients. With deplorable living conditions added to medical neglect, many of the hospital's residents
suffered and died. Hence the impetus behind the asylums paranormal activities found today such as orbs of light,
unexplained sounds and voices, ghostly touches, apparitions and odors of unknown origin.
Built utilizing a standardized method of asylum construction and mental health treatment known as the
Kirkbride Plan, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is a vestige of Thomas Kirkbride’s approach on hospital
design. He believed that certain building designs inherently contained the ability to “cure” the inflicted through
ample use of daylight and improved ventilation. Placed in secluded areas within expansive grounds these
massive structures were conceived as ideal sanctuaries for the mentally ill and as active participants in their
Asylum reveals an emotional narrative of despair, imprisonment, isolation and abandonment;
whose story is kept by its walls, and whose secrets lie in the contrast of its shadows. The series also shows traces
of human presence combined with a malevolent aura that interacts with the space revealing the personality of
the souls that once roamed the corridors of the asylum.