The tours may have stopped, but crews are hard at work sprucing up another section of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for the new year. The central hallway on the second floor used to have a line of bathrooms and closets down the middle, but asylum staff are returning it to the original open design to improve their tours and bring more people to the building.
"Each year we've experienced tremendous growth with the number of people that have come to the asylum. Historic tours are up, and we are opening new tours that hopefully we can have people return that can experience something new," said TALA Office Manager Bethany Cutright.
Many people in Lewis County have memories of the enormous building when it was still a hospital. Though residents may not stop by as often, the Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau said success at the asylum is a good thing for the whole county.
"Bringing that extra revenue in is also helping support families in the area, people that are employed at Trans-Allegheny, but also other people that are employed at the other tourist attractions as well," said the CVB's Elaina Massey.
In some cases, it's impossible to recreate the interior exactly as it was, but asylum staff said they get as close as they can with modern materials and enjoy being involved in the building's rebirth.
"In essence, it's kind of a balancing point between trying to replicate it and keep it as authentic-looking as possible, while still realizing the fact that you're working in a 150-year old building that has issues of its own, so when we're doing this type of work, you're almost babying it back into existence," said TALA's Jake Rich.