Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Built between 1858 and 1881, this asylum is well known for being the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in the entirety of North America. While it was originally built as a safe haven for the mentally ill, it eventually became a nightmare to most of it’s patients. The original hospital was build to accommodate only 250 patients, but it reached it’s peak of 2,400 patients in the 1950’s. Although the building was beautifully built with many windows to allow light, the conditions were terrible, as overcrowding caused living conditions to deplete.
This particular asylum was known well for it’s women’s ward in the early years. In those days, men could have their wives committed for just about anything. Depression, greed, menopause, asthma, inheritance, etc. A man could fall in love with the woman next door or just get tired of his wife and drop her off at the front doors. These women would spend the rest of their lives behind the asylum walls. The only person with permission to check them out were their husbands, who left them behind.
While the medical practices used on mental patients were renowned as “breakthrough operations” in their time can now only be described as cruel. The most popular method of treatment for the worse patients was Lobotomy, which was an operation done on the brain that severed ties to and from the prefrontal cortex. This was meant to cause a calmed state in the patients. However, for the most part, patients that underwent this surgery were thrown into a permanently vegetative state. Many patients were also exposed to shock therapy and other generally torturous experiments and treatments. Additionally, patients that could not be controlled were thrown in cages for days, some even weeks.
The asylum was finally closed in 1994 and is now mostly used to paranormal tours, but is otherwise abandoned. As can be expected from such a wretched place, there are literally hundreds of different paranormal accounts regarding the grounds. People have reported hearing women screaming “help me” and “get me out of here.” A woman on a paranormal tour claimed that she heard a young woman begging “please call my husband.” Additionally, people touring the buildings have reported feeling followed and feeling someone breathing down the back of their neck. The head paranormal investigator in the area reports the spirit of a 9 year old girl that he regards as a very active spirit. Born in the asylum, she lived a short life before succumbing to pneumonia. The investigator states that he’ll ask the young girl, named Lily, to do tasks. These tasks include tapping on walls/windows, turning a flash light on and off, and once tugging on the investigator’s hair. She was able to complete these tasks almost every single time he asked.
For more information on the hospital and tours, click here.