View Full Version : Staunton, VA - abandoned asylums

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Deep Creeker
08-09-2010, 12:15 PM
I went through DeJarnette just before it was boarded up. After reading the comments on the walls I left infested with ghosts. The place is really scary; one expects Nurse Rached to appear from the asbestos dust at any time. I wouldn't advise a visit, but I noticed the usual door down by the bioler building is open again...

Deep Creeker
09-15-2010, 12:02 PM
Here's another part of the DeJarnette story discovered by accident: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=DeJarnette&GSfn=joseph&GSiman=1&GScid=52569&GRid=33089671&

09-15-2010, 05:25 PM
Wow. I knew he was a proponent of Eugenics, but I never realized until now how far he took the concept. Yikes.

09-15-2010, 05:29 PM
My favourite piece of graffiti from the photographs that I took there: "Joseph Dejarnette was impotent." I don't know whether it was true but it was an amusing find, nonetheless!

Another scary modern-day proponent of eugenics in the US was William Shockley, Nobel prizewinner and arguably the founder of silicon valley.

03-12-2012, 02:14 PM
I just wanted to say that the the photos of the asylum are beautiful. I was born in Staunton in 1983 and was raised learning about the two buildings and many others. My father acutally used to work at the Jail/asylum in the dowtown part of Staunton when he was in his early to mid 30's (he is currently 60ish). My mother grew up in Stuanton and went to the old high school across from the large park, which is being changed over to something else (I think an old folks home or a company is ripping it down and building something new). It is nice to see beautiful photos of those buildings that have always scared me as a child. Thanks!

03-12-2012, 03:54 PM
Thank you. And thank you for the building update.

I haven't been up that way in a few years. Last I heard (through this thread and comments on some of my Flickr photos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbell/sets/72157601355586410/)), the children's asylum was finally bought buy a developer and was going to be turned into commercial space(s).
I'm disappointed it's being razed for new construction, but not surprised. It sits on prime real-estate, atop a hill, directly visible from the interstate. And is probably too costly to re-purpose vs tearing-down and building something new.. And I guess it must not be listed on any state/national historic building registries due to its controversial nature(?)..

As far as the adult asylum/hospital/prison near downtown, it's turning into really nice apartments/condos. At least a few of the buildings have been finished. But renovation construction came to a halt due to the condo units not selling well enough (surprise surprise). Some of the buildings further back from the main road may still "abandoned" and might be accessible (but I have no real idea at this point).

I haven't checked the condos' site in a while either (can't remember the name/URL, too lazy to search the thread), but I think 'stage 3' of its building/reconstruction was to be where the asylum/hospital/prison's cemetery is located.. Always, thought that'd be a pretty funny selling point, "Oh by-the-way, the land you're $250k+ condo sits on used to be the resting place of dozens/hundreds of dead and forgotten mentally/emotionally-ill folk marked only by cold unmarked gravestones before we ripped them out of the ground/built over top of them.. So.. uh, sleep well tonight.."

05-21-2012, 02:41 PM
"[The former Dejarnette Children's Asylum] is still standing as of May 19, 2012, but impossible to breach without breaking or damaging anything."
-Amelie deSade (via Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbell/3372445837/))

08-05-2012, 03:24 AM
its illegal. The cop caught a ton of my friends there. The back door is usually open..

10-17-2012, 08:52 AM
To anyone in the area: There will be Ghost Tours around the Dejarnette Asylum/former Western State Hospital every Saturday in October 2012.

Haunts of the Dejarnette Sanatorium
Walking Ghost Tour
Presented by The Ghosts of Staunton and Black Raven Paranormal
Saturday October 20th and 27th, 4:00pm-5:30pm (dusk)
$15 adults, $10 children 6-12

Reservations are encouraged, and can be made by calling:
540-448-2743 or 540-448-1806


Just found out about this through a comment on one of my Dejarnette images on Flickr.

Original text from commenter, vasuthernboy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbell/867068753/#comment72157631790299525):

I live about ten minutes from Staunton. The Dejarnette was only a childrens asylum in it's later years. It was the original Western State mental hospital and is named after it's owner. A friend of mine is heading ghost tours there which started last week and will be for the next couple of weeks on Saturdays at 4pm for a 90 minute walking tour. You can Google info on it which is how I stumbled onto to your page. Great pics by the way! The other building your talking about is now a partially finished set of condos. It was part of Western State also and was then turned into a prison. They were maxed out and it wasn't worth renovation so they built a new and bigger one. I was in parts of it before it sold and changed and new a couple of guys that were Gaurds there...they had some crazy stories!!

10-17-2012, 11:13 PM
i was commited there.. lol

10-17-2012, 11:14 PM
I went through DeJarnette just before it was boarded up. After reading the comments on the walls I left infested with ghosts. The place is really scary; one expects Nurse Rached to appear from the asbestos dust at any time. I wouldn't advise a visit, but I noticed the usual door down by the bioler building is open again...
i was there too. very freaky

10-27-2012, 03:19 PM
I just went there today-it's "Halloween weekend" (kinda) and the weather was overcast and rainy. I am a 21 year old female in an intro to photo class (B&W 35 mm) I went here alone. I first tried to go to the one across the street from Sheetz, and before I could even walk away from my car a cop approached me in his vehicle and told me I couldn't be on state property. Then I discovered the two connected buildings new the Fronteir museum. It was very eerie and I enjoyed the graffeti on the windows and doors saying "I hate you", "Fuck You", "Suck Our dick society", "Y U no let us in", "Come In", and "They told us to Kill"...all perfectly placed in the direction I chose to walk around the building. Every Window was boarded up and all the doors were welded shut or had piles of rocks in front of them. There was much overgrowth. It was thrilling to reach the final side of the building (what I think others refer to as the back entrance) and find a small opening in one of the windows. I broke the window a little more to safely get in without cutting myself too badly and climbed in to the window. It was incredibley dark inside and I took a few flash photos with my 35 mm. I lasted inside the dark building by myself for only 6 minutes and walked down the hall way perhaps 10 yds. I heard something from down the hall at this point and decided to not wander through the dark asylum by myself. I have not developed the film yet but I did take a few photos with my shitty cell phone camera.
door way with rocks and boards
front side of Peery building
the only opening to get in
inside looking out
view of both buildings

02-17-2013, 11:19 AM
those are really great images!

02-28-2013, 05:52 PM
Didn't the old VMI used to be in that area as well? I was born in Charlottesville and my grandmother lived in Waynesboro until she died in 1998, and I remember her telling me something about some old buildings that looked very similar to these being the former location of VMI. My wife and I have seen these buildings on our trips up to MD and been majorly creeped out by them. Samantha you have some real cajones to go trapsing around inside, mad props!

02-28-2013, 06:26 PM
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.

Good point. With the debates of about mass shootings and gun control in the US the mental health issues have been a topic of discussion. I think in every case the shooter was known to have mental health issues. Problem is, unlike years ago when these buildings were in use, it's virtually impossible to civilly commit someone *before* they do something awful. (That's not to say the old system didn't have problems of it's own, abuse, poor conditions, etc.)

But getting back to photography, old buildings are wonderful subjects and it looks like you really captured what you set out to do. Well done!