St. Albans Sanatorium, located in Radford, VA, shut its doors in the early 1990s after a century of abuse and terror. Actually, the terror began even earlier, during the American colonial period when the Draper's Meadow Massacre occurred on the very site that would one day be a boy's school and later a mental hospital. It seems that almost every city and town the world over has some claim to paranormal fame. But, few could come close to matching the amount of ghostly activity that has been recorded and reported at the haunted St. Albans, one of the most haunted places in Virginia and, perhaps, the entire country.
Over more than 100 years, St. Albans was the site of severe emotional and physical abuse of patients and the numerous suicides it led to. Even when it was a boy's school at the turn of the 20th century, students were tormented by staff and encouraged to bully one another. A number of deaths were reported on the campus during the site's 20-year tenure as a school.
When the hospital closed its doors in the 1990s, a former patient purchased the property with plans to turn it into a center for learning. In order to raise the funds to make that happen, he hosts regular ghost tours and overnight ghost sleepovers at the old hospital. If he's eventually able to open his business, perhaps at long last something good will come from a place of such sorrow. Then again, there's plenty in the hospital's history that should have him thinking twice about wanting to spend so much time there.
There are plenty of haunted locations all over the east coast of the US, but a number of paranormal experts named St. Alban's Sanatorium in Radford, Virginia, as the "most active location on the east coast." This probably has to do with just how long the land there has been inhabited. Members of the Powhatan, Shawnee, and Cherokee tribal peoples all settled on the land. Then was the boy's school in the late 19th century. The mental hospital followed and ran until the '90s.
In the fall of 1755, long before the cornerstone of St. Albans was laid, a band of angry Shawnee tribesmen descended upon the pioneer community of Drapers Meadow which would one day be the site of St. Albans. A number of settlers were murdered that day, and several people were taking as hostage by the Shawnee. One of these, a young mother named Mary Draper, was taken to what is now Kentucky but was able to eventually escape and walk nearly 800 miles back home. Some of the spirits from the massacre may still haunt the site today.
In the late 19th century, the original buildings of what would later become St. Albans Sanatorium were constructed. It opened as a Lutheran school for boys, purportedly to train up the next generation of southern gentlemen. However, the school quickly developed a reputation for harsh treatment and the encouragement of bullying between the students.
To complicate matters further, the school was highly competitive in athletics and had a rivalry with another school. The students were encouraged to go above and beyond to win games, and when they failed they were punished. While there are no "official" deaths on the record books, a number of deaths occurred on the campus, including suicides. A few students left after their first term, refusing to return due to the wretched atmosphere and cruel treatment. The school remained open for only 20 years, closing in 1911. But plenty of dark energies and emotions were left behind.
Five years after the Lutheran School For Boys shut its doors, Dr. J.C. King arrived in Radford to transform the buildings from a boys school to a hospital for the mentally ill. His idea was to revolutionize the treatment of mentally ill patients, a practice with a poor centuries-long reputation. King encouraged the latest techniques and technologies, while also purporting to offer compassion and good, basic patient care.
Initially, St. Albans Sanatorium became known as one of the most progressive treatment centers for the mentally il. However, in the early days, King's methods were untested and many patients suffered and died from the experimental nature of the techniques. A number of suicides reportedly took place at St. Albans. It is said that the spirits of the tortured and miserable patients of St. Albans linger and have made their presence known to those who visit.