Category Archives: West Virginia

Trans Allegheny

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, formerly the Weston State Hospital in Weston West Virginia is one of the rare old Kirkbride buildings still left in existence. Construction started way back in 1858 and was interrupted by the Civil War. 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. This place had a very sad past but is a gem to photograph as I have visited several times, normally concentrating on sights on the inside of the building. I was recently asked if I had any of the building itself so I dug through the archives to find this one and I thought I would post it, this place offers a nice photo tour as well every year on certain dates, well worth it.

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WV State Penitentiary

WV State Penitentiary Moundsville West Virginia

Located in the small quaint little Ohio River town of Moundsville West Virginia nestled with houses in a normal neighborhood lurks the Gothic Revival West Virginia State Penitentiary building. The Penitentiary was modeled after Joliet Penitentiary in Northern Illinois, only built on a smaller scale. Its Gothic Revival architecture exhibited, as much as possible, great strength and conveyed to the mind a cheerless blank indicative of the misery which awaits the unhappy being who enters within its walls. Paranormal groups consider Moundsville Prison to be one of the most haunted prisons in the United States, with ghost stories originating as early as the 1930s. Legends include the prison occupying the site of a Native American burial ground. Reports include former guards seeing phantom inmates and a “shadow man” wandering the premises, as well as unexplained noises, voices, and cold spots.

The first complex at this site was the The North Wagon Gate, built during the Civil War, the construction continued until 1876. The Prison had a dark history, as most do, with it’s share of homicides(36), prison breaks and riots through the years. Public hangings were performed on site until 1931 when the public witnessed a decapitation during a hanging, they became invitation only events after that, 85 men met their fate by hanging. In 1951 the electric chair became the main method of execution until the state outlawed that in 1965. Nine men died in the chair nicknamed “Old Sparky” ironically built by an inmate at the prison. The original chair is still on display at the prison.

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