Weston State Hospital

This was West Virginia's first public institution. Its construction was begun by the State of Virginia before the separation of West Virginia from the mother state, the first appropriation having been made by the Legislature of Virginia, March 22, 1858. The institution was opened October 22, 1859, when nine patients were brought from Ohio, where they had been in temporary care awaiting the completion of the hospital. Dr. R. Hills, formerly of the Central Ohio Insane Asylum, was made superintendent and Dr. N. B. Barnes, assistant.

In the first years of its history the institution was encompassed with many difficulties. Not only were there financial troubles, but Confederate soldiers in a raid appropriated the blankets belonging to the patients, and in a second raid a ward was destroyed. The people of Weston very generously came to the rescue and contributed their own blankets to fill the temporary needs, public acknowledgment of which was made by the superintendent in his report. In 1868 the population of the hospital was 40; since that date there has been a continual increase in the number of inmates, and a corresponding increase in the appropriation for running expenses, until at the present time the population of the institution is 1023.

The grounds belonging to the hospital contain about 335 acres, and front about 2000 feet on the West Fork River, opposite the town of Weston, and extend back to the north to a depth sufficient for this acreage. With the exception of the site on which the buildings are located, which extends back from the river about 800 feet, the land is very steep and entirely unsuitable for tillage. A very small portion of it is used for gardening, but in the main it is used for grazing.

There are two producing gas wells upon the property, supplying abundant gas for all the needs of the institution, which were discovered in an effort to secure water by boring deep wells. The water supply is something of a problem with this institution, because the only source of supply is the West Fork River. The recent erection of a very large reservoir upon a high point of the hill in the rear of the building has solved the question of storage. So much filtering is needed, however, that it is difficult to get the water entirely free from sediment. There are some shallow drilled wells upon the premises, which are of considerable value in times of drought. More history...

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