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View of The Blackburn Inn entrance
View of a sophisticated social area

A Storied History

So Many Chapters

Every stay has a story. Originally built nearly two centuries ago as a place of rest, relaxation, and tranquility, The Blackburn Inn & Conference Center is steeped in years of fascinating history and local lore.

History Timeline

Chapter One

The Blackburn Inn was formerly the Main Administration Building for the Old Western State Hospital. Constructed between 1825 and 1828 and led by American Psychiatric Association co-founder Doctor Frances T. Stribling, Western State Hospital practiced a then unheard-of “moral treatment,” focusing on the emotional well-being of patients. He soon decided to expand the complex to provide the best amenities possible.

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Chapter One

The Blackburn Inn was formerly the Main Administration Building for the Old Western State Hospital. Constructed between 1825 and 1828 and led by American Psychiatric Association co-founder Doctor Frances T. Stribling, Western State Hospital practiced a then unheard-of “moral treatment,” focusing on the emotional well-being of patients. He soon decided to expand the complex to provide the best amenities possible.

Dr. Stribling hired architect Thomas R. Blackburn to lead an expansive renovation in the mid-1830s. A respected protégé of Thomas Jefferson, Blackburn incorporated Jeffersonian-esque design elements, and together, Stribling and Blackburn added spacious room wings, magnificent gardens, and a hand-crafted spiral staircase leading to a cupola and rooftop veranda.

History Timeline

Chapter Two

Western State Hospital later relocated, and the original property was transformed into a medium-security prison in 1981. Edward Murray, the first superintendent of the correctional facility, appreciated the beautiful landscape and preserved as much of the original property as he could.

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Chapter Two

Western State Hospital later relocated, and the original property was transformed into a medium-security prison in 1981. Edward Murray, the first superintendent of the correctional facility, appreciated the beautiful landscape and preserved as much of the original property as he could.

Once the correctional facility closed, the city of Staunton took over ownership and began searching for a developer to restore the historic buildings and grounds. Richmond-based firm Miller and Associates proved they could take on the task and in 2006, Miller and Associates became the new owners of the 80-acre property and what is now known as The Villages of Staunton, an upscale, mixed-use community.

History Timeline

And Now...

The Blackburn Inn & Conference Center officially opened in June 2018 as Virginia’s newest and most elegant boutique hotel. The development team was able to maintain many of the original and treasured architectural features, including the signature spiral staircase, classical arches, hardwood pine floors, and traditional fireplaces, all while creating 49 unique guest rooms, an art gallery, and an intimate, Southern-inspired restaurant.

Notes and Lore

The Western State Hospital

The Western State Hospital was built in this location because of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, which went through the city of Staunton. This was a convenient spot because it was centrally located and an easy access from up and down the east coast.

The Gardens

Four acres of meadowland were purchased in 1837 for gardens, orchards, tillage, and pasturage. These farms were used to help replenish and heal the patients who were staying here, and patients could choose to help out on the farms if they wished to do so.

The Chapel

The 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, visited the hospital in 1851 and attended a church sermon in the chapel building. His friend, a philanthropist who was traveling with the President at the time, donated the pipe organ that still resides in the chapel.

Circular Driveway

The circular driveway leading up to the Blackburn Inn was created by Thomas Blackburn to enhance the grandness of the building, the hospitality of the entrance, and the beauty of the grounds. Not only did he want the property to be a place of healing, but he also wanted it to be pleasing to the eye.

Architecture

The unique architectural features in The Blackburn Inn are the hardwood floors and classical molding around the doorways, both of which date back to the day it was built. The transom windows on the third floor were the inspiration behind the Blackburn logo.

Gazebo

The gazebo is located just to the right as you come up the main drive. It was built in 1877 and is original to the property. It has since been restored and is still in use today.

The Fountains

The twin fountains that greet you as you are coming up the drive are the original fountains created by Thomas Blackburn. The fountains were a part of a later-added landscape plan in 1871. They have since been restored and are still in use to this day.

Iron Fence

The iron fence that runs along the outskirts of the property was installed in 1848. It was not built to keep patients in – but to keep the Staunton residents out! Since no parks existed in town at that time, it was common for Staunton residents to use the front lawns as a picnic area, which was not conducive to the privacy of healing patients.