Staff of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum have been working hard over the winter months to ready the grounds for what might be their biggest year so far.
Restoration work at the asylum is continuing as the staff tries to get the building ready for next month's re-opening. While there's plenty left to do, some big changes are already in place. Seven new rooms will open on the first floor, with space reserved to show off work the staff has done with West Virginia University.
"They'll have three museum rooms on the left hand side, where they'll be focusing on the oral histories we've been working on with them for four years. And they'll have interactive displays and a lot of information in that area, so we're very excited about those rooms," said Operations Manager Rebecca Jordan Gleason.
Maintenance crews are hard at work on other parts of the building. The asylum is the second largest cut stone structure in the world, beaten only by the Kremlin in Moscow. Crews said they appreciate the chance to preserve the historic building.
"It's 200 years old, it's history, it's our history, why wouldn't anyone want to learn something and restore things the way they were back then, and that's what I do and I really love doing it," said Eugene Jones, maintenance director for TALA.
Gleason looks forward to the opening of the asylum this year, including the new tours it will offer. But more importantly, she said there are lots of lessons the asylum can still offer to people today.
"Not only do we teach people from all over the world about mental illness and the treatments of mental illness and the good, not only the bad, that came from the asylum era, but we're able to teach our children not to make those same mistakes that were made in the past," said Gleason.
If you can't wait for the asylum to reopen, you don't have too much longer to wait. Opening day is March 30, and you can find more information here.