Western State Hospital Redevelopment Project

Staunton,VA is home to the former Western State Hospital, a hospital for the mentally ill, which originally began operations in 1828. In the 1970s Western State vacated the property and moved to a site near Interstate 81. The facility was then converted into the Staunton Correctional Center, a medium-security men’s penitentiary. In 2003 the Correctional Center shut down, and the facilities were vacated.

The former Western State Hospital is within walking distance of historic downtown Staunton, and the complex covers 75 acres. The complex borders Staunton’s business district near attractions such as the Blackfriar’s Playhouse, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, and the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum. Five of the site’s 21 primary buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the original buildings feature Jeffersonian influenced architecture. In fact, the original campus was built by the same masons who constructed the University of Virginia.

In 2004, the City of Staunton discussed transforming the Western State Mental Hospital into a vibrant, mixed-use pedestrian-friendly community. The City assigned the development team of Frazier and Associates of Staunton, Folsom Group of Charlottesville, Miller & Associates of Richmond, and the Arcadia Land Company of Wayne, Pennsylvania to the development project. The Folsom Group and Miller & Associates will lead the development project, and they want to build a mixed-use district with homes, restaurants, shops, and offices.

The new development will be named The Villages, and it will be completed in phases over the next 10 years. The team plans to renovate many of the existing buildings for new uses and construct new buildings. Renovation has begun on the first building, The Bindery (the largest in the complex), and this building will soon house nineteen single-level condominiums.

I think this project is a great idea. I’m always in favor of renovating existing structures for new developments, and the Western State Hospital complex certainly does have some beautiful buildings. However, even though I like this project I don’t think that I could ever live there. The idea of living in a room that was occupied by a mentally ill patient AND a prisoner does not appeal to me. I also wonder what the developers plan on doing with the grave site located behind the complex.


  1. lglegli

    Again, due to the awful conditions and crimes commited in those buildings against our own citizens, I feel whats being done with Western State right now is wrong and my tax dollars better not be going to assist it!
    In fact, there better be a memorial to all who were tortured there plainly placed for all to see!
    I personally don’t see how any person could knowingly go into those rooms for any reason…not because a mentally ill person or prisoner was there, but because those buildings were used in criminal ways…that only minimizes what occured on those hills…there was no glory in that and frankly, to do anything other than tearing them down is a crime!
    As for the cemetery there on the grounds…it MUST be preserved! Those people were put there as their final resting place, finally at peace and no longer subject to society’s stigma, no longer available as a victim for their cartakers, and we as a state must take responsibility for that.
    The cemetery must be maintained, delinieated, all graves marked with names and dates for the respect and honor they deserve. The time in NOW, not later or after debate…we wouldnn’t treat any other cemetery this way!
    These people lived, they had lives, aspirations, and hope like all people..they mattered..they had families and the time is now to recognize that fact. To do less is such a slap in the face to all those still surviving the horrors of that place.
    Good luck Staunton on getting some buyers…I WON’t be party to it nor should any other American either!

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