Waiting in line at St. Albans Sanatorium, chills ran up my spine. Maybe it was the cool, crisp night air or perhaps it was the piercing screams.
Located in Radford, the sanatorium is perched on top of a hill, glaring down as visitors walk up the driveway. The run-down brick building is swarming with weeds and vines, making it seem as though it came straight from a horror movie.
According to the website, St. Albans was built in 1892 and was originally an all boys school until 1916, when it was converted into a sanatorium for the mentally ill. The sanatorium has been abandoned since the 1980s before being transformed into a haunted house attraction last year. Although it has recently opened to the public, many paranormal investigators have visited the site calling it a hotspot for paranormal activity.
For the season surrounding Halloween, St. Albans opens as a “Scream-A-Torium,” offering two different haunted houses. Visitors have the option to buy two tickets at $10 each and walk through both houses or choose between the “Reign of Terrors” and the “Carnival of Cadavers.” Both are said to be equally frightening but the “Reign of Terrors” is zombie themed, while the “Carnival of Cadavers” is clown themed.
Being especially terrified of clowns, I chose to walk the “Carnival of Cadavers.” Waiting in the courtyard of the old insane asylum was eerie. The building itself was creepy enough, but there were also actors as mental patients dressed in bloody costumes, laughing hysterically and trying to scare everyone in line. Not only that, but the screams from inside the asylum could even be heard from the back of the line. The atmosphere waiting outside the haunted house put everyone on edge and made us all hyped to go in.
After a 30-minute wait, my group was finally next. We were prepped on the background information of St. Albans and also given instructions on what to do if we wanted to get out. I was jumping out of my skin to get in, so I lead the way for my friends. Of course there were clowns jumping out at every corner, which was scary, but I was pretty underwhelmed with the decorations.
I guess it was scary enough to be in an old mental hospital, but I didn’t think that the actual costumes and decorations were all that frightening. Nothing was intricate and at times it felt like they forgot to jump out or forgot to add something terrifying to the room.
If you are easily scared then St. Albans will definitely scare the pants off you. But if you are not easily frightened, it’s not something that will get your heart racing. That being said, I think it was definitely worth the $10 to walk through the supposedly haunted sanatorium. Being an old mental hospital, it was creepy, especially if you’ve seen movies like “Shutter Island.”
The anticipation built in the courtyard didn’t measure up to the actual delivery of the haunted house, but my expectations were very high due to the nature of the location. Many people seemed genuinely freaked out after walking through, but personally, it wasn’t enough to get me screaming and shaking.