Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (1864-1994)
The building sits on a rather ominous 666 acres and follows what is called the Kirkbride plan. Long wings that were staggered to allow additional fresh air and light were supposed to provide a curative effect, but the asylum was a living hell for the people that called it home.
I’ve always loved old structures and looking at the photos of this particular asylum really gets the small hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Sure, the place is creepy. It’s also beautiful in a run down, decayed sort of way. Some people might call these photos “ruin porn.” I guess a lot of people enjoy searching for photos of old, abandoned places on the internet and exploring those places in real life. It makes sense. Seeing the cavernous space that is the TALA is very intimidating. With its eroding walls, peeling lead paint, abandoned “therapy” rooms, and debris scattered over the floor, it is certainly a sight to behold. The minute you look at a photo of the place, you begin to wonder what life was like for those sent to TALA. Issues of overcrowding, (the structure was built to house 250 and topped 2,400) sanitation, and ill treatment of patients topped the list of common problems, so their existence was likely an awful one.
Visitors say they’ve seen full bodied apparitions and heard voices on all floors. Although it is said that over 100 people lost their lives here, it is suggested that this number may be much higher. TALA served as a military post during the Civil War, so the property is steeped in history and in the energy of those who lost their lives here.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. It was designed by the renowned architect Richard Andrews following the Kirkbride plan, which called for long rambling wings arranged in a staggered formation, assuring that each of the connecting structures received an abundance of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air. The original hospital, designed to house 250 souls, was open to patients in 1864 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 inflicting a devastating effect on the local economy, from which it has yet to recover.
If you’re brave enough, you can tour the structure. The 2 hour tour features 4 major activity hotspots while the 8 hour tour is an overnight excursion into the belly of the beast to seek out the paranormal entities that reside there. The 8 hour tour is led by an experienced ghost hunter, but they let you do your own investigations if you choose. Past participants have stated that the guides took a step back when asked and allowed TALA to speak for itself. Many visitors said it did! Prices range from $10 to $100 for the overnight tour. It’s an experience you won’t likely forget.
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Photos courtesy of Trover.com