Staunton, VA - abandoned asylums

Discussion in 'US Southeastern Region' started by mattbellphoto, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. mattbellphoto

    mattbellphoto Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Gibsonville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm curious if anyone has been through Staunton, Virginia.

    I'm from central NC (greensboro-ish area), but some years ago i developed a fascination with Staunton, and especially some of its older architecture.

    It's a 4+ hour trek from where I go to school, but me and several friends have driven up there about a half dozen times, primarily to photographer the abandoned asylums.

    That's what peaked my initial interest.

    I stopped at a Sheetz while driving north up 81, and notice a large ominous and seemingly abandoned building on a hill nearby. I was lucky enough to be traveling with friends equally enthusiastic on exploring this location. And I've been in love with the place ever since.

    It's only the last few visits that we've actually explored the town itself. And it's quite charming.

    We still mainly go up to explore/photograph the abandoned Dejarnette Children's Asylum and the old Western State Hospital (adult asylum/prison).

    Of course this is a very "enter at your own risk" kind of place, but we've never encountered any trouble visiting Dejarnette. The adult asylum is a bit riskier. It was being renovated and converted into condos when we last went. And it's been some time, so I would imagine they are being lived in by now. Though, the adult asylum is a large facility with several buildings, and only a few were being converted at that time.

    The adult asylum can be seen mapped out here and the children's/Dejarnette asylum here. Some of mine and other's images are geo-tagged on the maps.

    The adult asylum is more than a dozen buildings, including the main "campus" of seven or eight buildings, those towards the main entrance being renovated, a round automotive workshop off to the east, a large barn/slaughterhouse off to the south, a "yard", a few guard towers, nearby staff living corders, large "parking" on the southern side, and a very creepy cemetery on a hill off to the south full of evenly space unmarked gravestones. When we first visited it was also completely fenced-in with a few (large) openings. By now most of the fencing and probably a few other of my details are no longer there.

    The Dejarnette Children's Asylum includes the two large main buildings, a newer constructed corridor connecting the two, a power building (a two boiler steam plant), a overseer's corders, a loading dock, and a small shed near the back road (where we usually park). It sits just off the highway at the top of a hill between a Sheetz gas station and the nearby Museum of Frontier Culture.

    Some of my photos from Dejarnette (mostly 6x6 TMX):

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Older digital shots:
    First trip to Dejarnette
    Second trip to Dejarnette
    The adult asylum/prison
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2008
  2. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Location:
    Shenadoah Va
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have an ongoing series over at the DeJarnette Center. However if you want images you better floor it before the entire lot is razed. This site is about 10 minutes from my house. This place was certainly the site of many evils in days past. This was where DeJarnette performed sterlizations to hundreds of invalids and even to drunks. As I recall Dejarnette wrote some VA State statute about Eugenics which was supposedly adopted later on by the Nazis.
     
  3. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

    Messages:
    1,249
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Interesting first post, and very nice images - I especially liked the 4x5 Polaroid one. BTW, is this a double (or multiple) exposure?

    Welcome to APUG!


    Best,
    Sanjay
     
  4. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,726
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Many years ago I would drive through Staunton (pronounced Stanton) from Newport News, VA to Glenville WV to see my folks. There is an old tale about a professor who had a flat tire just outside the fence. He set out to change to the spare. It was near dark and he lost the lug nuts in the tall grass. An inmate happened to be watching and suggested that the professor might take one lug nut from each of the other weels and be able to get home. The Professor expressed amazement that an inmate should have such intellect. The inmate said "I'm just crazy, not stupid."

    Now I live in Tanner, WV, near Glenville.
     
  5. geoferrell

    geoferrell Member

    Messages:
    81
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Location:
    McKee, KY 40
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I think photographers are the patron saints of old buildings. The older the better and during renovation. And in black and white for added symbolism. That is one aspect of America that is seldom told, and your pictures add to that point counterpoint surrounding mental health issues.
     
  6. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,866
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Brandon, MB
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    My city has an asylum on the hill overlooking the entire city - it looks amazingly like the one you photographed.

    Similarly, it's been abandoned for a decade or so; although is now slowly being redeveloped, tastefully and respectfully, as a college.

    I don't have quite the freedom you do -- a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through to be able to get in there. But, your images certainly are great inspiration to not forget.
     
  7. StauntonMiss

    StauntonMiss Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Question about DeJarnette.

    Ok. This may sound bad, but how do you get into DeJarnette? I'm from Staunton, and even from a younger age, this place has really intrigued me. I would also like to let you know they are boarding up the building on July first.
     
  8. mattbellphoto

    mattbellphoto Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Gibsonville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I heard. I'm going to need to head up there again before that happens for one last romp.

    I always entered from what I refer to as the back entrance. The door was never locked and was usually standing wide open. There are one or two other open/unlocked exterior doors as well.

    The notes on my map show where:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbell/3372445837/
     
  9. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Staunton is a very pretty town. I've only been there once for the day (to see Shakespeare) and snapped a few photos with my digital. I've always wanted to go back. I have 4 photos from there on my website and posted this one on photosig. I'd be up for a weekend APUG meetup type thing - it's around a 5 hour drive for me I'd guess.

    Dan
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The DeJarnette ctr. is one of the venues we may consider for the upcoming C'ville photo get-together in May.

    I have visited with Joe Harrigan and plan to go back very soon as part of a series on eugenics.
     
  11. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

    Messages:
    879
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Keith,

    I look forward to seeing this place in May....

    John
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,930
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wouldn't mind seeing it either!

    Jeff
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. mattbellphoto

    mattbellphoto Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Gibsonville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    epic shots, Keith.

    i love your mix of panoramic and detail shots.

    and the paint peel shot is gorgeous.
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you Matt, you are very kind.
     
  17. 402photography

    402photography Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Location:
    Ashland, VA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Great pictures. My wife and I stopped by there on our way back from WV. Took some perimeter shots, but didn't dare go inside Dejarnette. We were thinking of taking a road trip tomorrow from Ashland to visit again. How often have you been inside? Thanks in advance.
     
  18. mattbellphoto

    mattbellphoto Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Gibsonville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been (in) there about 5 or 6 times.

    Oddly enough, if my friend can get off work tomorrow, I might be making a trip up there as well.
     
  19. 402photography

    402photography Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Location:
    Ashland, VA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format

    Very cool Matt. Thanks for the response. I believe the weather is supposed to be nice. I am still unsure about going in.......we are just going to go and see what come of the day!
     
  20. mattbellphoto

    mattbellphoto Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Gibsonville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I went back a couple weekends ago.

    I would've liked to have shot more, but couldn't.

    I blogged about it here.

    [​IMG] - [​IMG] - [​IMG]

    [​IMG] - [​IMG] - [​IMG]

    Analog:
    Nikon F2
    Nikon Ai 20mm f/2.8 lens
    Scotch Color 100 35mm film (heat damaged and expired since '95)
    Digital:
    Nikon CoolScan V ED 35mm film scanner
    -RBG curves adjustment + DigitalICE dust removal in Nikon CoolScan 4
    -resized in Photoshop/Bridge CS4

    More pics in my Dejarnette Photo set.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2009
  21. vandenbudenmayer

    vandenbudenmayer Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    have you been here since?

    Have you heard about the status of the place since you posted that it was to be boarded up? Also, when you went were there any other buildings left that one could still shoot in? My boyfriend and I wanted to do a shoot there tomorrow.....

    Thanks!
    Stephanie
     
  22. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I haven't been by in a few weeks- I don't know if it's boarded up yet.

    If you do go by, be sure to drive on up the road to the frontier ctr. and get a pass, which will at least allow you onto the grounds of the Dejarnette Ctr. They will *not* give permission to go inside, so you are on your own there!
     
  23. vandenbudenmayer

    vandenbudenmayer Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thank you Keith
     
  24. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,948
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2004
    Location:
    South Norfol
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Van den Budenmayer,

    Do you have a favourite among the 'Three Colours' films?

    Tom
     
  25. vandenbudenmayer

    vandenbudenmayer Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Haha! Hey Tom! I do. It's Bleu.
     
  26. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

    Messages:
    7,114
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Location:
    In a darkroo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Welcome to APUG, Matt. Never been to Staunton but I work for Fisher Auto of Staunton in Milford, De. Have always wanted to go to Mecca (as it were) and now I know I'll be bringing along my camera.