ONARCHITECTURE- Erasing history: Wrecking ball aiming for DeJarnette?

It's hard to miss the old DeJarnette Sanatorium on the way into Staunton on Richmond Road. Like some haunted, decaying mansion, the Georgian Revival complex of buildings– originally a residential mental institution modeled after Western State Hospital and built in 1932– stands out against a backdrop of modern apartment complexes, a Sheetz gas station, and a Wal-Mart. It's as if the town were afraid of going near it, choosing instead to ignore its presence– putting up streetlights, convenience stores, and gas stations, hoping perhaps the place would disappear or crumble into dust. 

But in fact Staunton has not been ignoring the peculiar roadside attraction. The city, known for its historic preservation efforts, has been trying for years to figure out what to do with the old place. The buildings were abandoned in 1996 when the DeJarnette Center for Human Development– which had operated as a public child and adolescent psychiatric hospital since the early 1970s– moved to a new facility and became the Commonwealth Center for Children & Adolescents. 

According the Staunton Mayor John Avoli, who also happens to be the director of the Frontier Culture Museum (which took control of the state-owned structures and the land on which they stand after the Center moved), the museum tried for nine years to market the building "with no takers whatsoever." 

"It's just an albatross," says Avoli, who adds that its deterioration, asbestos insulation, and concrete construction make the building extremely difficult to work with. "It's unfortunate, but we've finally had to file an application for demolition," he says.

Of course, the DeJarnette also stands in the way of some big plans the Frontier Culture Museum has for the site. In 2003, the museum proposed a $10 million expansion that would level the existing structures and transform the hillside into a less haunting gateway to the city, providing room for a shopping center, restaurants, and a 120,000-square-foot cultural center with an "Extreme Screen Theater," a possible hotel and conference center, and a new 2,000-square-foot gift shop for the museum.

Under an agreement with the state, the Frontier Culture Museum would lease the property to developers, which would generate income for other proposed projects, including an American Indian encampment, a West African farm, and a replica of a hamlet from the 1850s. According to Avoli, the Museum has already leased the property to a developer who will begin construction once demolition is complete. 

Frank Strassler, executive director of the Historic Staunton Foundation, finds it disheartening that the Frontier Culture Museum hasn't been able to find a developer willing to preserve the building. Strassler notes that the Preservation Alliance of Virginia included DeJarnette in its Top 10 list of endangered historic sites in Virginia in 2002, and he points out that a developer was found for Western State Hospital, an even older set of Staunton buildings than DeJarnette.

"This is a tough one for me," admits Strassler. "Over the years, we've always tried to encourage and help the Frontier Culture Museum find an adaptive re-use for those buildings, but we've pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that they're coming down."

 However, according to spokesperson Susan Pollard, the Virginia Department of General Services will have the final say on whether DeJarnette is demolished, so it could be awhile before the wrecking ball swings.

"It's a long process designed to make sure a building isn't just demolished without being thoroughly reviewed," says Pollard, who points out that reviews by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Arts and Architectural Review Board, and a final review by her office are required before the buildings come down. 

Some might think the Frontier Culture Museum hasn't tried hard enough to find a use for the building. After all, Staunton found someone willing to restore the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and much of the downtown area, and as Strassler mentioned, plans are under way to restore the massive Western State Hospital complex. Surely there must be someone willing to preserve a complex that strongly resembles Charlottesville's old McGuffey School, now a thriving arts center.

"At one time we were practically trying to give it away," says Avoli. "There were ideas for it to be a hotel, an art center, even a pet motel. But no one ever made an offer." As Avoli points out, the state chose to build a new mental health facility rather than refurbish DeJarnette because of the costs and difficulty involved in restoration.

Then, of course, there's the unhappy history. As haunting as the old building already is, the mere name "DeJarnette" summons an ugly chapter in Virginia history.

When the sanatorium opened its doors, Dr. Joseph DeJarnette, who directed the equally eerie Western State Hospital down the road, was a leading proponent of eugenics, a dangerous mix of science and social prejudice that called for the forced sterilization of people considered  "feebleminded" or "inferior." From 1927 to 1979, over 8,000 Virginians were forcibly sterilized, part of the 60,000 people subjected to the procedure nationwide, a pace that DeJarnette was unsatisfied with.  

"Germany in six years has sterilized about 80,000 of her unfit while the United States– with approximately twice the population– has only sterilized about 27,869 in the past 20 years," said DeJarnette in 1938, a year before Hitler invaded Poland and started his own brand of ethnic cleansing. "The fact that there are 12,000,000 defectives in the U.S. should arouse our best endeavors to push this procedure to the maximum," DeJarnette railed.

And in what has become perhaps his most infamous remark, he said, "The Germans are beating us at our own game."

Of course, the eugenics movement was not unique to Virginia, DeJarnette, or Staunton. It was a philosophy shared by much of the country and the world at the time. In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Virginia's eugenics law, which DeJarnette helped to pass, in the forced sterilization case of Carrie Buck, a 17-year-old Charlottesville resident who was picked as the first person to be sterilized in Virginia. In a now infamous opinion, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote: "It's better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind...Three generations of imbeciles are enough." 

At UVA, the teaching of eugenics was popular as well. In fact, according to historian Gregory M. Dorr, UVA became "an epicenter of eugenical thought" that was "closely linked with the national movement." Dorr quotes a term-paper from a UVA student in 1934 that reads; "In Germany, Hitler has decreed that about 400,000 persons be sterilized. This is a great step in eliminating the racial deficients." In 1939, one of UVA's leading eugenicists became the dean of medicine.

Still, as far as the insanity of the eugenics craze goes, DeJarnette takes the cake for a poem he wrote about his beliefs, one he often read in public. Here's an excerpt:

Oh, why do we allow these people

To breed back to the monkey's nest,

To increase our country's burdens

When we should only breed the best?

Oh, you wise men take up the burden,

And make this you(r) loudest creed,

Sterilize the misfits promptly—

All are not fit to breed!

Then our race will be strengthened and bettered,

And our men and our women be blest,

Not apish, repulsive and foolish,

For the best will breed the best.

To be fair, the DeJarnette Center existed as a legitimate child psychiatry hospital for years after the eugenics sterilizations stopped. Still, after the center moved, it abandoned the DeJarnette name to escape its legacy. 

Given DeJarnette's history, some folks might be forgiven for wanting to demolish the building bearing his name. But others might think that's even more of a reason to preserve it. In 2001, former Virginia delegate Mitchell Van Yahres proposed changing the name of the DeJarnette Center to the Carrie Buck Center. Apparently, however, there were no takers. 

Preservationist Strassler points to the U.S. Supreme Court's pro-eugenics rulings. "Do we demolish the Supreme Court?" he asks. "How far do we take this erasing of history?" Still, as far as preserving the DeJarnette buildings are concerned, Strassler admits the legacy is a hard one to overcome. "Can you look past that history?" he muses. "I don't know. That's a difficult question to answer."


Developers in Staunton want to demolish the old DeJarnette Sanatorium to make way for a shopping center and a new gift shop for the Frontier Culture Museum.
Photo-stitch by Hawes Spencer 

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63 comments

I am heart broken to lean that this gorgeous set of buildings are to be destroyed. I recently discoverd them on a trip to the Frontier Musuem, which I thought, was in the business of perserving history. I would think that if they are entaining the possibilty of a hotel, then they have the perfect buildings to do so. I would also like to think that it would be cheaper to restore a building on US soil then to move an intire farm from Germany to place on the grounds as was done at the museum. With the restoration movement growing rapidly in recent years, there should be several resources that Staunton could call upon for assistance.

I have lived in Staunton all of my life and I see these buildings everyday! To destroy them is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard of. I do not believe that those associated with tearing them down are being 100% truthful. The Frontier museum could profit from the use of these buildings, by making them part of their learning experience! Why not turn them into a MUSEUM? Staunton has enough history to fill these buildings, probably twice! Those who want to destroy them are using what they believe are valid points, first they say that the cost to refurbish them is too extreme! They say the asbestos that is in the buildings make the price go up, the same procedure to remove the asbestos for remodeling has to be followed for demolition! The second reason, they are named for a man that everyone would like to forget? Let's face it, what Dr. Dejarnette practiced was of the "norm" for his time! Wouldn't we want to be proud that we have come so far since that time? If we destroy these buildings for that reason, then go ahead and fill out the application for the demolition of UVA! Oh, but don't stop there! There are many buildings that have a darkened history, let's level them all!!! We need to get in there and clean these buildings up! The museum is just letting them sit there and become overgrown with weeds and debris! Why? I believe so that they become an eyesore to the city and people will complain!

Oh great!Just what we need!Another shopping mall/complex!Staunton doesn't have a hundred yet!?!Once these buildings are gone--they are gone forever.You couldn't recreate these acurrately for the price of a "Ball stadium" of some sort.These should be restored!And presented as the jewels they are!Virginia looks to have a bad record on this sort of thing.All one has to do is travel about 25 miles to the former Blue Ridge Sanatorium,look around,then research the subject!That was no accident!What else could one expect from a "law school"!?!

I was in town recently just to check out this old hospital to see if it was haunted. Guess what? It is! We didn't see anything suspicious while we were inside but when we reviewed our photos - we were flabergasted! We have loads of "ghosts" pics! I'm so glad that I took the chance that we would be able to get inside. It was a 5 1/2 hr trip for us. The day we were there, there were a couple of guys surveying for the upcoming demolition.

Sheila,

Ghost pics! Send them to us...we've love to see them.

Dave McNair
dave@readthehook.com

I was floored to find out that the wrecking ball may be approaching the old Dejarnett center in Satunton. We have been to the Frontier Museum to get permission (Legally), to go up and drive around the facility. I am planning to go back with a friend to do some daytime pictures of the outside, and inside of this place. I am also going to be scheduling an unannounced entry at night for a Ghost Hunt to see if the place is really haunted. It's a shame that no one can find a use for this place. My Sister told me that everyone of the construction companies that have gone thru this place, do not want anything to do with it, and all "have a bad feeling about it, and they do not want their guys in there." If i do get some good Ghost pictures i'll be happy to share them with you. Perhaps someone would even get the guys from T.A.P.S., to come do a TV program on this place. I just hope they don't tear it down anytime soon, i was there on May 22, 2008, and saw the survey stakes around the building, so i'm sure it's going to come down soon, much to my dismay.

I was driving around Staunton when we came across this building. It is a beautiful building and would love to visit it both in and out. I am going to try and explore the building sometine soon. I hate to see it torn down, if there is anything that can be done, let me know. I would love to see all pictures of the building, grounds and any of the ghost pictures that you may have.

Thanks

I spoke with the director of the Frontier Museum in Staunton, and he told me that it will be at least 10 years before Staunton decides to do anything at all with the Dejarnette Center. The survey stakes with the pink tape are there to show where the new road will be coming off of 250
to cut across the grounds of the hospital to connect with frontier drive. My friend and i were there during the last week, and got some wonderful photographs of the buildings, inside and out. There were several places where you get the feeling that someone(thing) is watching you. The museum director says that the builing is haunted by a gentleman by the name of Mr. Atlee.
Not sure if he was a resident/groundskeeper/employee of the facility. We did get some interesting photos of the windows along with a blueish glow in one, and the image of a shoulder/neck/head of someone in one of the windows. We went back to the facility that same night, and stayed only about 30 minutes there. The place is needless to say very creepy and scary at night, it seems that the place literally
"grows in size." While we were there we heard in
several places the sounds moaning (a couple of short ones), and definetly one long one, and footsteps on the floor above us. I also observed on the way out in the hallway a "shadow-person" who appeared to be dressed in "hospital pajama" attire, grey in color. I am definetly planning to go back, and stay longer, and hope to get some night pictures, and do some EVP recordings. If anyone does go just ask the Frontier Museum for
permission to go up there, they will probably let you, but they don't assume any responsibility for anything that happens to you once you leave the museum property. I'll keep you posted on what is revealed with the night-time photos, and EVP's. If anyone is interested SINCERELY, in going please let me know. My e-maill address is: Lewman2002003@yahoo.com

If anyone is stuck between heaven and hell haunting that place it's the eugenic psychiatrists and all who helped them, not the patients who are in Heaven sitting next to our Lord for all their suffering on earth.

I've been intrigued by the alleged hauntings of the Dejarnette asylum. I would also love to see some pictures or EVPs. I am extremely interested in taking a night hunt in the asylum.

I do not know what it is about this building, but I can't stop looking at it anytime we pass I have to just stop and stare. When my twin found out that it was going to be torn down we made some day and night visits. ( It was creepier during the day) We took some picture and video taped some.......This building is amazing there however is so much damage to it done by stupid kids it amazes me. The police had just finished up some training in there too, so there were blank bullet casings in the stair wells. (I saved some). I pray that no one destroys this building..... It has way to much history. Weather it be good or bad it's still history. I plan a future visit thought the FCM. In some of my picture (which have been on my myspace for a few years for those who know me) The pictures with us in them everyone our faces are fuzzy in.......I found it odd. The night we were in the we kept hearing stuff and my sister wanted to visit the morgue downstairs. I told her that she could go at that one alone. On our video we got some creepy sounds and something in a window, but who knows it could have just been our imaginations. I hope this building never goes and those who visit just visit and stop destroying the place. You never know you might just make something mad.

I and a friend have visited the Dejarnett Center quite a few times recently. Each time we go back we find more interesting things to look at. However the "Demolition" that the kids, vagrants, and drug users are doing to the place is incredible. Each time there seems to be more stuff torn up or broken into. Over the last few weeks, we have seen the ghost of Mr. Atlee, who is or was a resident there (still is in spirit), and last night 7/31/08, there was definetly movement by somone or something at the end of the hall at the Perry Building. I have personally gotten cold chills, and have been "hugged" and have had a set of hands placed on my shoulders while there for the night visits. I want to go back sometime soon, and go in around midnight and stay thru the early morning hours to see if we can contact Mr. Atlee, and do EVP work, and take the video camera. Needless to say the place is huge and forbidding, especially at night. It really gets dark and creepy on the 1st floor of the Dejarnett building. It's a shame that something cannot be done to save these buildings as the architecure in them is amazing. I'll keep you posted on the happenings up there. The morgue as mentioned by Natasha in the above posting is located in the basement of the Perry Building underneath the lower "sun porch" on the South end of the building.

Is the owner still interested in selling the place to someone other than developers? It seems such a shame for such a landmark and beautiful building to be demolished. I'd love to own the place and have a few ideas of how to raise money to redo it and make it into something that would be great for the city.

Does anyone know when the building is open for tours? I worked at DeJarnette for four years and I would love to go back to see it again. That place holds so many memories for me.

I found out today that a Real Estate Company is working with a buyer and that the contract negotiations are in "final stages." Once approved, plans are to go ahead with DEMOLISHMENT
of both buildings. Not sure when it's going to happen, but it looks like it may be soon. In regards to the posting by Cherie, i'd be happy to take you thru the building during the day. But, the buidling is NOT open to tours due to the asbestos in there. Let me know by e-mail if you'd
like to go. I'd like to know most of all where the Chapel was located in the place. You may
contact me at Lewman2002003@yahoo.com. and i'd be happy to meet up with you for a 1st hand tour of the place. I have see the ghost of Mr. Atlee at least 3 times now while i have been on ghost hunts in there at night. Shadow people have also been seen, as well as doors that open by themselves. So if anyone want's to go thru, you
had better go soon. The state dosen't want the property any more, the museum dosent' want to deal with it, even though the signs on the gate
say "No Trespassing - State Property." If you go
in the museum will not take responsibility for you if you get hurt up there.

My mother was a patient of this institution in
1965. I am wondering if there are any records
of former patients available to their family. My
mother has passed away at the age of 60.

the dejarnette center is one of the most intriguing and awe-inspiring places ive ever visited. i would like to know more about it and would like to meet someone who has personally been to the center during its functioning days for a tour or to learn as much as possible. though i am no professional, i am very seriously considering doing a small documentary before this place is demolished. anyone who would like to share information, personal experiences or the like please contact me at jerknamedmoo@gmail.com

I was a patient there in 1995 for a short period of time. I was young, in my teens, but I will never forget the day I sat in a cop car for 4 hours handcuffed and pulling up to the Dejarnette Center. It looked ok from the outside but once i got in, it was absolutely one of the most frightening places I had ever been in. It was like being in a haunted house with the craziest SOB's you would ever meet. The doctors would evaluate you and find drugs to put you on immediately. For a person who had never taken prescribed or illegal drugs, it was a like being in some type of experiment. I hope anyone that was in that place made it through and lived a happy life. It's been over 13 years and those images are still vivid in my mind. I had to go to Stauton 3 years ago and I drove by and saw the DEJ Center and it sent chills down my spine.

anonymous

I have lived here 12 years and have passed it thousands of times and have never heard such stories. I am a firm believer in the paranormal even though I havent experienced anything myself. Id be down for a look if anyone is interested... email me at dadzbiz1228@comcast.net
The building has always made me wonder and I know it holds secrets, is there anyway to get in there legally for a tour?

Hey, just wanted to let you all know there has been "a lot" of suspicious activity going on at the Dejarnette Center over the past 4 weeks. Just be careful if you go up there. I can't go into details about what's been going on. Our Ghost
Hunts have been interupped because of the activities going on.

Survey stakes are now all over the place around the property, and brush and trees are starting to be removed from the grounds in preperation for the
upcoming demolishment of these two wonderful buildings. If anyone wants to go in on a ghost hunt you had better do it soon. I cannot get an answer fom the Frontier Museum when it's coming down. We will soon be closing (much to my dismay), our Ghost Hunts at the facility. We have recorded a lot of things going on there during our investigations. Just be careful if you go. During the most recent ongoing day's of rain the homeless, and other transients have moved in to get out of the weather. This being the case we have put ghost hunting there "on hold" until the weather cooperates a little better.

i would love to go there for a tour with some friends, if anyone is interested in going up there. please email me @ kfitzknasty@yahoo.com

Hi all!! I went on a family renuion in staunton va last October 2007....Needless to say we stayed at a hotel very close to the facility. There were about 7 of us, after a few bottles of wine, decided that we were going to go there....At that point, my father told me that his GRANDMOTHER was there for a while!!! And he rememberd going to see her and being at the end where you can see the outside...but can't go out b/c of the bars! So we all went there..It was pitch black...We were all extremely scared..we got in through a broken door. there were cots leaned up against the walls, gowns still on the floor...there were even papers on the floor! So much for HIPPa!!! LOL..We only had 2 flashlights..seemed like every room had something in it. It was very strange. We found the entrance to the basement but all agreed that we were NOT going down there and we did not go upstairs either. There was def. lots of evidence of homeless people and drug addicts...part of the reason we were so scared was that we would bump into one of them. But we walked all the way to the end where the "bars" are..We thought we could get out that way just to find out that we could not...and we had to walk all the way back to find the way out that we came in. There is Definately a lot of sprints or something in that place. at one point I was the last one and felt this cold breeze on my neck and got the chills...I def. want to go back..I wanted to see more/do more but we def. needed more light. I would love to go back there before they decide to tear it down.

So I Take It That No One Cares If People Go In there anymore? I'm apart of a paranormal group, and I remember going in for a brief time before when it was strictly prohibited. But from seeing so many posts it seems like its more of an enter at your own risk type of thing. If anyone can confirm this, just let me know.

As of 10/20/08 Pre-Demolition work is being done to the outside of the buildings and grounds. A lot of the Ivy has been pulled off the walls, and trees are being cut down now. A lot of the outlying buildings are being cleaned up in preperation for the demolishment of the buildings probably some time soon. So, if you want to go thru the buildings you had better go NOW. The frontier museum will give you permission to photograph the outside of the building, but if you go in, it's at your own risk. If anyone is seriously interested in going in on a tour, please let me know. I don't think we are going to have to many more chances to do it, and YES, THE PLACE IS HAUNTED. I was up there tonight, but there seemed to be other people in the building, and with the gangs, drug dealers and homeless people in and out it was decided to abort the Ghost Hunt for tonight. Again if you are or want to go in, you had better do it soon, or the buildings are going to be gone forever.

AS OF 10/21/2008 ANYONE NOW CAUGHT ON THE PREMESIS OF THE DEJARNETTE CENTER WILL BE
PROSECUTED BY THE STATE FOR TRESPASSING - PER THE
STAUNTON POLICE DEPARTMENT. If you go, you go at
your own risk. I will NOT be leading any more tours thru the building, and our ghost hunt for this property has now been officially closed.

i have lived near these buildings all my life. i had never been in there until the other night and i have to say that it is very creepy. but also i couldnt help but be amazed at the beauty of the artcitechture. to learn that they are tearing down the place is heartbreaking. i think that the state just wants to erase what went on there from virginias history. i dont think that tearing down one of the most endangered historical buildings in staunton is going to solve anything. just because the building has asbestos in it doesnt mean its going to cost a fortune. the old western state is being converted into condos and that building was there before Dejarnette Sanitorium so im sure that had asbestos in it too. tearing down the place and replacing it with a shopping center and possibly a hotel is not what we need. the buildings have been there for a long time and i feel that we should preserve them regardless of what went on there. someone should start a petetion or something because the last thing the american frontier culture museum needs is to have a commercialixed area right beside what is supposed to be a place to take you back in time. something needs to be done about this. if anyone feels the same then we need to do something about it!

With Halloween now fast approaching, it would be highly advisable to keep away from the Dejarnette/Perry Buildings. Not only is the Staunton Police Department watching, but also the
Frontier Museum Staff is watching the property 24
hours per day now. I also believe there is someone as well watching the place from up at Lowe's near the lumber yard, and they are calling
in to let the FCM know when they see someone going in. Just be very careful if you go. If caught they will prosecute, and charge you with trespassing ($1,000 fine + 1 year in jail). Just a thought.

growing up i would pass the DEJ on the way to the mall as a child and not even know what it was. i think i was about 10 years old when my mom told me it was an institution for the "mentally ill" children and teens. it's always creeped me out passing it, but i feel saddened that it is being torn down. the man who opened the place was into "ethinic cleansing", i can only imagine how many patients may have actually been murdered under his watch, and these poor souls may never have peace. the last thing augusta county needs is more shopping centers/gas stations/hotels etc, they are taking away our land that makes this area beautiful and now our history.....

can anyone else confirm that demolishment has begun? i want to show a friend of mine these buildings but it is a long drive, i dont want to go for nothing.

Hi Mel, i saw your posting on 12/26/2008. The buidings are still standing at this time. Just don't go on the property at all.
Views from the road are going to be about it.

Today is Jan 4,2009 and iwent pass it and took some pics. It is still standing.

When demolition does begin, I expect the buildings will be imploded due to their height. Anybody know for sure? Would be fun to watch.

As of February 10th the buildings are still up. The Frontier Culture Museum has gone to great lengths to buy plywood to seal up the broken out windows, and has secured the doors closed on the property. They are now doing 24/7 patrols around the building and have enlisted the help of the Staunton Police Department. Anyone now caught on the grounds or around the buildings will be arrested and charged with Trespassing. So pictures from the road are fine. They have torn down some of the outlying buildings at this time, and have cleaned up all the brush and vines around the building and trimmed up the pine trees to see the buildings ground floor better. I cannot find out anything about when the buildings will be demolished. The last i "heard" from the Culture Museum is that it might still be 9 - 10 years out before it happens. My team of Ghost Hunters was fortunate enough to have investigated the building throughly before they started keeping people out, and the place is for all intents and purposes haunted, by at least one Ghost, by the name of Mr. Atlee. Just a word of caution, i wouldn't set foot off the driveway onto the grounds around the building in the late evening or at night, and i wouldn't attempt to approach them either. I cannot afford a $1,000 fine, nor a year in jail (Class 1 Misdemeanor). The grounds are posted, gates are chained shut in at least 3 different places.

My mother was a patient at DeJarnette in 1948 and I would like to learn more about this place and what might it have been like for her.If anyone can help me I would appreciate it very much. Went by and saw the place but did not go inside. Thanks for th help, Catherine Lane

Hello again everyone. A few weeks ago I called the FCM and spoke with a safety coordinator who said I could go onto the property and take pictures BUT not to go at night and if the SPD showed it was on me.(see Lewis R. Wiseman's warnings above) He also advised not to enter the building and that they are NOT responsible for any injuries. Well I did go this past weekend. My sister once again wanted to go to the morgue but thankfully we were on the wrong side of the place for that. A few friends also attended and one kept getting flicked in the ear he thought it was one of the others in the group and turned to hit him just to realize no one was behind him. I can not believe the amount of damage that has been done since my last visit 2 1/2 years ago. I wish people would stop spay painting and tearing it up! My sister and I would LOVE to win the loto and just buy the place to save it....wish us luck. LOL
I am glad that I got to go one last time and actually spend more then 15 minutes inside. We stayed for over an hour. It does irritate me that some of my cameras and digital records refuse to work inside and that my batteries die even though I charged them before leaving my house, but we did get some good pics. PLEASE PLEASE if you ever do go do NOT destroy anything!

Do you really think if you tear down the center that the spirits will just go away. You might want to think twice about building condo's there.

DOES anyone have any pics of this place or the Ghost's in there?? I would love to See them. Thanks . my e-mail- prettydovenhburg@aol.com

i went to dejarnettes with my friends and we took our camera but we were too scared to even try to take a picture. Then my friend tried to take a book but if we were to do so then we would get haunted IM GOING BACK SOON ANYONE WANNA JOIN?

I dont what made me look dejarnette up,but 2 days ago I did.I was a patient there in the early 90's.I had no idea about the history behind it.I remember sitting on the "caged" porch all the time.I've been in those quiet rooms.Looking at the pics now are freaKY.Unfornuately I was in and out of institutions until 22.I never got any help.All they did was drug me up.There is no hope for me.

This is crap they should not destroy these awsome buildings they have some much history one of the things i dont understaind why the museum will not use it do you know how much money that state could get if they opened it up to the public for like tores in stuff unless they are hiding something maybe a deep dark secret? who knows?

Hi all...went up thru Staunon on Tuesday July
7, 2009. Saw some guys up there working around the Dejarnette Building (the one close to Sheetz). Saw a backhoe up there, so not sure if they are getting ready for demoliton or not. I'll ride up that way this week, and check it out for sure, and see if i can find out any information and if so i'll post it on here. Just be careful if you go up there.

my family and i stay right across from the building when we come thru va. i have taken several photos from the microtel inn, but never went inside. although i would have loved to, but i guess my not wanting to get caught kept me out. just staring at the place from across the street you get this eery feeling about it. i would love to contact TAPS for them to investigate it. if you have been in there and have ghosts pics, i would appreciate if you could send me some. we live over 5 hours away, and we go there just for weekends alot. it just leaves you feeling like you want to know more about it, and wanting to go inside to see for yourself. please let me know your different occurances you had while visiting there.

ATTENTION: The Dejarnette/Perry Property is still posted "State Property-No Trespassing."
A construction firm has been hired to remove
all shrubbery, vines, trees, and everything
else to a 100 foot radius around the
building. Staunton Police is watching the
building and grounds and you will be charged
with "Trespassing" if you are caught on the
property. It will not be much longer before
the demolition crews will be there to start
tearing the place down. My best advise that
i can give you is take pictures from the road
BUT DO NOT ENTER OR SET FOOT ON THE GROUNDS.

I also noticed the cleanup crew. I heard they were going to redo the building and make offices out of it anyone else hear anything?

The buildings would cost $700.00 per Square Foot to Remodel, due to the asbestos removal. They are coming down, and a new shopping center, hotel, Frontier Museum and Movie Theatre are going in. Of course, the DeJarnette also stands in the way of some big plans the Frontier Culture Museum has for the site. In 2003, the museum proposed a $10 million expansion that would level the existing structures and transform the hillside into a less haunting gateway to the city, providing room for a shopping center, restaurants, and a 120,000-square-foot cultural center with an "Extreme Screen Theater," a possible hotel and conference center, and a new 2,000-square-foot gift shop for the museum. Get pictures while you can while it's still standing, if you want them.

MR Lewis,
Where do you get your info?

Because the people I talk to are normally reliable. They say it is cheaper to remodel then to take it down. I am not saying they are not going to tear it down but you seem to know an awful lot about this building. Why? and how deep is your knowledge about it's history?

The building is coming down:(

"To be fair, the DeJarnette Center existed as a legitimate child psychiatry hospital for years after the eugenics sterilizations stopped."

I know someone that was there in 1988. He was diagnosed as 'mentally incompetent' and was sterilized - he was only 13 years old at the time. Things went on there long after the laws changed. Eugenics sterilizations did not stop, they simply went unnoticed and unreported.

Well...it seems that plywood is going up all over the buildings and windows at the Facility. Rumor has it that the buildings will be remodeled and renovated, the asbestos that's there will be covered up, some will still have to be removed. I think the FCM (Frontier Culture Museum), is planning on using the same architecture to build the hotel, and museum, and shopping center there, along with the theatre. So, i guess we'll just have to now, wait and see!

Woo Hoo I am so glad they are saving it!!!

I hope that they dont tear it down.its part of history

Does anyone know about the State's assault on Pig Hollow in Bath County? As I understand the people living there were a 'genetic threat' because they were supposedly inbred. Richmond sent in the militia. Two were killed and the rest were sent to De Jarnette for sterilization. I believe 15 people were involved. Any further information would be appreciated

I have been fairly obsessed with these buildings since I first saw them. Any pictures/info would be much appreciated...jeb3qz@virginia.edu. Lewis R. Wiseman, thank you for your continued posts...

Lewis, I would love it if you could email me some updates on the building. I have some things that I'd like to talk to you about. Maybe you could help me out. I have a piece of a record that belongs to the building. It's a long story, but could you email me and give me the latest update? mindymelancholy@hotmail.com. I really need to speak to someone about this situation, and you seem well informed enough that you may understand. Thanks (:

I spent a couple of months in early 1970 and recall how poorly like tying patients in chairs to a post until they would behave. They were often forgotteh for hours and were often gagged.
I hope the buildings come down in cruel crumbs like its history.

I have been all over the country on business i was in staunton last winter ,staying in the hotel near the perry building one week end i went up there took some pictures of the outside there was an elderly man standing near the white colums, i asked him if he minded if i went inside, to my surprise he said "If you want go ahead" i entered the place and was amazed, there was alot of damage, but the true sense of the past was there be it bad or good it is one of the most fascinating places i have ever seen, i wandered around in there for awhile ,in amazement, when i came out the old man was gone, i called my wife that night sent her a picture she said our you out of your mind going in a place like that by youeself. i hope common sense prevaials and the place is preserved,

they should fix up the old dejarnett. the place is so old but to me it is a beauty to our city. i say fix it up and add stuff if they wan't like hotel.

me and a few friends went there over the summer of 2009. it was very scary. i would not let go of my friends hand. i felt something pull my hair and we swore we could see a light coming from a room at the end of the hall. we walked into one of the rooms and we all started to feel dizzy and our heads started hurting pretty badly. im planning to go back REALLY soon with some other friends. wish us luck! :)

I am very pleased to see so many people feel the DeJarnette center is a piece of history . DeJarnette holds so many beautiful thing's. I have toured the building from top to bottom 3 times . IF you have never seen the poems and scribings inside the closets on top of rafters , on the walls and hidden in nooks a crannies of that building you are really missing something . There are little writings all over that building left by children housed there . I have zero belief in the supernatural but I must admit if you go through those buildings and read all the things those kids wrote you get this gut feeling of PAIN and anguish . The pain and hopelessness is written all over the place . There is one sentence written on top of a rafter in the what we believed to be with coal that say's " if I could get out of here I could be somebody" .There is a very small handprint up over the inside of a closet on the second floor that somebody traced then there is a bigger hand traced over the small hand and it says beside it "myrtle 1941". There are thoughts and poems poems written all over that building . Our best find are three what I believe to be dental tools found in a hole in the first floor wall . We took a mirror and noticed a picture down in the wall so we decided to open up the bottom of the wall . I still have all the items found packed away .

One picture of a very pretty women in a very fancy dress and hat .
3 eerie looking tools , the best I have guessed they are for a dentist maybe to work on teeth .
A red prince Albert tin with two 50 cent pieces , buttons , sowing needles that were stuck in this little thing that looks like a cloth tomato , like it was made to stick needles in , it has rice inside it .

I also have various other items not so interesting but still interesting enough found in cracks and crevices including some paperwork I stored away as I thought for sure one day the DeJarnette center with it's history stature and grace would be a museum or something and maybe they would want the items back . I never dreamed the place would be facing the wrecking ball .

All the writings need to be documented ! Who wants to break out the night vision goggles and preserve some important history !!!!!! The DeJarnette centers walls tell stories that cannot be left in the rubble !!!!!

How would a person get more information on what took place at the DeJarnette Center in the 1940's, specifically 1948? Is there any type of hospital manual that explains the internal "codes" used on the case records for a patient? Also, how would a person determine if a patient was or was not sterilized? (I have heard some patients may have been sterilized without their knowledge and/or without their consent.)

despite it's name, dejarnette did not work in the buildings, sterilizations were done on what was the main portion of western state at the time

I have lived here for over ten years now and have come to love the old building and would buy it if I had the money or knew someone who would help finance the sale and repairs. The old building is NOT responsivle for what MEN did to others inside it and the buildings are extremely commanding. If they are destroyed because the Cultural Museum wants modern buildings, it's should be the city and state who stops the destruction of such eloquent architecture.

Why not have people like the Senator Hanger, Preservationist Strassler, Susan Pollard and others who have the power to make this building a national landmark for ever. I would suggest holding an open preservation fund and let any one in the state contribute money to keep this building intact. It could be a convention center, historical museum or a number of other money making complex. If Western State buildings can command attention, so can the Deold DeJarnette Sanatorium!