The first patients were admitted to what would become Weston State Hospital on October 22, 1864. Built on 269 acres in Lewis County, the facility was authorized by the Virginia legislature in the early 1850s as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
The hospital’s huge main building was designed by Baltimore architect Richard Andrews, whose work also included the south wing of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington and the Maryland governor’s mansion. The Virginia General Assembly appropriated $50,000, and construction was under way by the end of 1858. It was one of the few major public improvements in present West Virginia started by the state of Virginia before the two states split.
The Civil War interrupted construction. Virginia’s Confederate government demanded unused funds be returned to Richmond, but Western Virginia leaders balked at the request and sent the money to Wheeling. Western Virginia leaders then resumed the work and, in 1863, changed the name to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. The institution’s name officially became Weston State Hospital in 1913.
The hospital was closed in 1994. The building is now operated as a tourist attraction.