‘Haunted hospital’ resurrected as tourist attraction in W.Va.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WYMT) - The Old Hospital on College Hill has been a spot of local lore in Mingo County for years, as stories of ghost nurses and creepy sounds echo through the community.
On top of the frightening tales, the hospital - which originally opened in 1928 - has many connections to people in the community who were born there. In 1979, the hospital was sold to a Louisville company before closing in 1988. Since then, the building sat as office space until closing in 2014.
In 2018, Tug Valley Area CVB joined forces with Williamson Memorial, opening the space to paranormal tours. Based on the interest, and subsequent feature in the Travel Channel’s “Destination Fear,” the old hospital became a new project.
“For me, it was a little bit emotional as well because I was born here,” said new owner Tonya Webb. “I also had two grandparents that passed away here that I never got to meet. So, I didn’t want to see it dilapidate and turn into nothing and just kind of rot.”
Webb and co-owner Sabrina Hatfield partnered to make the hospital into a tourist destination, offering historic and paranormal tours, private ghost hunts, flashlight tours, guided tours, photography tours, weddings, and private events. and, though the decision to open during the pandemic was not easy, the two decided it was about helping to keep the stories in their community alive.
“It was probably more heart than brains, but I felt that it was something that I needed to do,” said Webb. “It was a leap of faith for both Sabrina and I. We understand that it’s a risk. But anything worth having is worth taking a risk.”
Williamson Mayor Charlie Hatfield - husband of Sabrina - said the business, which is the 10th business to open in the city during the pandemic, shows promise for the area’s future tourism.
“I support them. As a mayor, I do, of course, as I do all of our businesses,” he said. “But this one’s a little special because my wife’s involved.”
Keeping the historical look and feel in play, with the possible addition of a gift shop in the future, the space is now open and booked for several future events. And there are more plans in the big picture for the next door nursing facility, but Webb said those moves are likely more than five years down the road.
”We’re gonna try to keep it as true to history as we can,” she said.
The first event scheduled for the space, the Bloody Valentine’s Dinner and Flashlight Tour, is already sold out. According to Webb, one of the original Michael Myers actors, Tony Moran, plans to visit the space and perform wedding ceremonies on-site in the future, and they hope to have more fun and spooky events on the schedule in the months to come.
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