History and a Paranormal Adventure in Weston, WV
Weston was a place that never hit my radar until I got interested in the paranormal. This past weekend I was visiting Weston with friends driving in from Gettysburg, PA. It seemed like we were driving for an eternity through gorgeous area when suddenly Weston appeared out of nowhere. Lush with trees and a nice breeze, our visit proved to be quite enjoyable.
Weston is a city that lies quietly in the northern half of West Virginia. According to the city website, the city is home to high profile people: a former congressmen, a former senator, and an NFL player. Only a couple of square miles in geographic size, it has just over 4,000 residents. Despite its small size, the city has a few historical and noteworthy locations.
Jonathan M. Bennett House
Built in 1875, this beautiful 17-room mansion now houses the Louis Bennet Public Library. It was built by Jonathan Bennett who became deputy sheriff in 1836 and later a state senator. He was able to accumulate wealth by purchasing tax delinquent properties at auction and, because of that, the family ultimately owned thousands of acres in West Virginia. Louis Bennett inherited the house after his father, Jonathan Bennett died in 1887. Louis and his family lived there until his wife, Sallie Maxwell Bennett, donated the house in 1922 to the Lewis County Commission. For more info, go to NCWV Life Magazine.
The Former Weston Colored School
This place lies nondescript in the middle of town but in reality it is a place with great history and an interesting story. It was built in 1882 with the purpose of educating the African-American students in the community. It was also used as a classroom for the local high school and then as a classroom for students with mental disabilities. It now houses the Mountaineer Military Museum.
The museum has exhibits accumulated by Ron McVaney from the Civil, Vietnam, and Korean Wars after serving in the military himself. Go their fact page for specifics about each of the wars listed about and also including Desert Storm Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. For more information about the building when it served as a school, go here: http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/lewis/93000224.pdf.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Construction on the asylum began in 1858 and it is absolutely stunning with its hand-cut stone. It was designed per Thomas Kirkbride's theory of creating an environment conducive to healing which included ample space, fresh air, and sunlight. Kirkbride was a doctor and he advocated for the mentally ill believing that they should be treated humanely with compassion and kindness. For more info on Thomas Kirkbride, go to the VCU Libraries website here.
The asylum was originally intended for 250 patients however it well exceeded that number over the years. It also housed a diverse group of patients, both children and adults, and included those that were criminally insane. Overcrowding and poor conditions were a challenge that ultimately closed the asylum in 1994.
My friends and I spent a night investigating the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and we had a great time walking the long, rambling halls. You can read about it in a future blog article so don't forget to come back and check it out!
We Will Return!
Next time I hope to visit some of the other places in town including the ones I wrote about today. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum requires more than one night to investigate. Not only do they have multiple buildings, but the main building is large and rambling....so much so that it requires multiple nights to give it (and its spirit residents) adequate attention.
Next time I'll also check out Appalachian Glass, Lambert's Vintage Wines (I do love a good wine!), WVU Jackson Mill Farmstead, and Stonecoal Lake. Keep an eye on the Events Page because we may just have an open space or two if you want to join us on our next paranormal adventure in Weston, WV!