St. Albans Sanatorium – Radford, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

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St. Albans Sanatorium

Radford, Virginia

Paranormal investigators claim this abandoned asylum is the most haunted spot in the eastern U.S. 


It doesn’t take a paranormal investigator to realize this building is haunted by its past. Broken toys litter the floor, while old wheelchairs rust in corners beneath grimy, peeling walls. The whole building has a dark, eerie air to it, making any visitor aware they’re treading on grounds sullied by decades of horrors.

The once-stately building was originally a Lutheran boys school. It was a terrible place to go to class, as bullying was encouraged within the increasingly competitive student body. As a result of the hostile learning environment, a number of its students died by suicide.

After the school was shut down, St. Albans reopened in 1916 as a psychiatric infirmary. It was supposed to be a better alternative to the other asylums scattered throughout the United States, boasting a rooftop garden, bowling alley, and even a small farm.

But conditions were far from idyllic for the patients who were confined to the sanatorium. Vulnerable patients were subjected to cruel and inhumane experimental treatments, which often left them permanently disabled or resulted in death from lobotomies or insulin-induced comas. Others were shocked via electroconvulsive therapy. Still others were completely wrapped, mummy-style, in towels drenched with ice-cold water or left to soak in a tub for days at a time during routine hydrotherapy sessions.

The sanatorium was ill-equipped to deal with the thousands of patients that entered for treatment. By 1945, its staff-to-patient ratio was 48 to 6,509. The desperately small staff and inhumane living conditions led the building to witness further suicides within its already grim walls. By the late 20th century, the sanatorium was on a steady decline. It finally closed in the 1990s.

According to paranormal investigators and the occasional curious visitor, not every patient seems to have left the building. St. Albans is supposedly among the most active paranormal locations on the East Coast. Given the number of wrongful deaths that occurred within, it’s easy to imagine why this would become a ghostly hangout spot. People have reported seeing bodied apparitions, shadowy figures, and levitating objects while exploring the abandoned building. Others claim to hear voices or even feel fleeting physical contact with unseen beings.

Know Before You Go

The tours and investigations are usually on specific dates. The St. Albans website has all of the information listed about specific dates, events, and tours. Also, if you're in for a real scare, then you should come around Halloween when there's usually a haunted house set up inside the sanatorium. This location is one that you will never forget!

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