I checked the route and found that we’re going to ride right by the Asylum. Wally wants us to make a stop there.
The place was built about the time of the Civil War and operated as a hospital for the mentally ill until it closed in 1994, although it never operated under the “Asylum” name. In 2007 it started operating as a museum and tourist attraction, and they decided to use that original name as an attention getter and to pay homage to the hospital’s history.
Seven years ago, my wife and I took the 90-minute Historic Tour and enjoyed it immensely. Much of the building’s interior is in poor condition, some of which is due to vandalism during the 13 years the building sat vacant, but quite a bit due to the neglect it received even while operating as a state hospital. The history of the hospital is both fascinating and horrifying. It was built following the Kirkbride Plan. Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride believed that mental illness could be successfully treated with a “moral treatment” approach that included pleasant surroundings in open, airy, bright, and comfortable living conditions. In the 20th century this was replaced with more progressive forms of treatment (electro-shock and lobotomies!!). Some of the building has been restored to its original condition, which reflects Kirkbride’s vision for treatment, and it’s truly a sight to behold. See http://trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com/ if you want to know more.
We might be able to get inside the building without purchasing a tour, but I don’t know yet. I’m working to find out.