The seven hour drive to Virginia was exhausting. We booked a hotel around the Staunton area when we were closer to the city. Larry had been in the area a few months prior while he was on tour and thought that there may be a few good places to look into. This trip was not like any other in the sense that we really did not do much research prior to leaving New Jersey.
We checked into our hotel around 3 am, slept for a few hours, then headed into town. It was quaint, with an antique store every few feet. The first store we went into was interesting, 3 floors of time capsulated wonder. The name of the place is Jolly Roger’s, and the woman working there was exceptional. She told us about The DeJarnette Center and the western state hospital and where we could find the two.
We parked the car in a home depot parking lot and crossed a highway. There it was, The Western State Hospital. Built in 1825, and was then called The Western State Lunatic Asylum. On July 24, 1828, the hospital welcomed its first patient. The hospital was a "resort style" facility, with mountain views, and gardens which were used to aid in the healing process. In 1894, the hospital was renamed The Western State Hospital. By the 19th century, the hospital no longer had its relaxing resort feel. It turned to overcrowding and warehousing of patients. The form of treatment turned to ankle and wrist restraints, straitjackets, and physical coercion. Most of these changes were due to the Eugenical Sterilization Act of 1924. Between 1905 and 1943, the hospital was run by a famous eugenist, Joseph DeJarnette. In 1970, the hospital was vacated and later converted into a medium security men’s correctional facility. In 2003 the penitentiary closed and two years later was given to the Staunton Industrial Authority, which began to build condos in its place.
When we visited, there was only one large building and a few small ones on the premise, but research shows that it once consisted of 22 buildings and 4 contributing buildings. The large building that was still left standing was massive and completed boarded up with doors welded shut. Larry and Phil were able to get inside, but it was complete darkness, and they were not able to see much. Their venture inside did not last long, they were able to get a few pictures, whoever, where you can see there is barely any graffiti, but it is clearly dilapidated and the ceilings are literally hanging before you.