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TAPS: Weston Hospital Is Haunted

May 1, 2008
By JOHN WICKLINE, Staff Writer
When the “Ghost Hunters” couldn’t offer an explanation on Wednesday night’s Sci Fi Channel show regarding the eerie sights and sounds they had come across, the same ones so often reported in the history of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the applause and screams echoing through the 150-year-old hallways were enough to wake the dead.

But Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, the founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), both warned against provoking those restless spirits, because it was only after the investigators began taunting those ghosts did they begin to show signs of activity.

Wilson said the old Weston State Hospital showed signs of “an intelligent haunting,” meaning that someone who was once alive within the hospital is trying to communicate with those passing through in the present.

“I’ve seen it before, and I’ve heard it before,” said Sue Parker, a Weston resident who worked at the old hospital for 30 years as a psychiatric aide and in the admissions department. “I knew that the fourth floor was haunted because I used to have to go up there after medical records. I could hear them following me.’

Dozens of people lined up outside of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum as early as five hours prior to the showing of Wednesday night’s episode. They wanted to see the show’s debut from the location from which it was shot. “Ghost Hunters” was shown to crowds at 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Crowds watched the show in total darkness, bathed only in the light from the television. The chill in the air only worked to heighten the senses.

“We want to see ghosts, all kinds, the ones that are still here and never left,” said Deania Bennington, who with her friend, Ruth Hodge, traveled from nearby Gilmer County to see the show because their cable system does not carry the Sci Fi Channel.

“You don’t often get to watch a show about ghosts from the place where they are,” Hodge said.

Wilson called the asylum “crazy,” as he and his team attempted to explain the shadows, female laughter, the apparent footsteps and even the sight of a shadow with its hands on its head crouching before “being sucked out of the room” that they observed on their high-tech probe during their recent stay in Weston.

The team even recorded a voice which it believed was telling them to “go home.”

“I didn’t need them to tell me it was haunted,” said Jane Gilchrist, who works as a volunteer at the facility. “You can’t have a place like this without it being haunted. I don’t think it is evil.”

Female laughter and footsteps were heard by team members in the old unit which formerly housed female patients. Legend has it that one night, the all-female crew and patients reported seeing a man in the room, even though the building was off-limits to men.

“We saw the man. He was there,” said Parker. “The patients kept saying they saw the man. He was leaning back against the wall with his arms crossed. The doors were locked with no way in or out. But security didn’t find a man.”

Rebecca Jordan-Gleason, whose family purchased the buildings and grounds in August 2007 for $1.5 million in a Department of Health and Human Resources auction on the steps of the Lewis County Courthouse, was thrilled with the outcome of the show.

“I never thought we would be getting ghosts with the deal,” she said. “This is going to have me roaming the halls for an experience. I couldn’t believe what they were showing me in the (end) of the show.”

The excitement generated by the “Ghost Hunters” visit has spun off into even more tours for the old hospital. Jordan-Gleason said experienced ghost hunters with the proper insurance can book a tour any night at the hospital.

In July, TAPS members are scheduled to come back to Weston to offer training sessions to anyone wishing to learn ghost-hunting techniques.

That course, which will cost participants $250, also includes a five-hour hunt. Other ghost hunts will be scheduled after the TAPS appearance for $150 per person.

The hunt includes dinner and a showing of the “Ghost Hunters” episode so that the participants can learn about the history of the building and where to conduct their search. Hunters will enter the building at 8 p.m. and be locked in the building until 5 a.m.

Haunted tours of the hospital will start May 16 and be from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. every Friday. Tours are two hours long, featuring the spots where the rumors began and a series of stories. The entire tour is conducted using only a flashlight. The cost of the tour is $40.

For more information on the tours, call (304) 269-5070.

Article Photos

(The Inter-Mountain/John Wickline)
WAITING?FOR?THE?FINAL?DECISION — Dozens of curious souls jammed the hallway of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum on Wednesday to watch the Sci Fi show “Ghost Hunters,” wanting to see if the rumors about the old Weston State Hospital were true.



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