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Asylum photographer to lecture on work in state

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A photographer who's studied 70 mental hospitals in 30 states will share his work in a lecture at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston.

Christopher Payne is appearing Nov. 29. He says facilities like the former Weston State Hospital are monuments to civic pride and noble intentions, and were first envisioned as places of healing.

From 2002 to 2008, Payne documented how they functioned as self-contained cities.

West Virginia University is sponsoring the free event as part of a project exploring the history of mental health care in the state.

More than 250 mental hospitals were built from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, housing more than a half-million patients by 1948. With psychotropic drugs and policy changes focused on community-based care, many are now empty and abandoned.

 


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