St. Albans: On market and running out of time

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For 119 years, the massive construct that was St. Albans Sanatorium has stood overlooking the New River in Fairlawn, Virginia.  Full of history and mystery, it is sad to think that the building’s end is approaching quickly.

With the building back on the market, St. Albans is set to be leveled if not purchased by January. St. Albans covers such a large expanse of land that there has been a lot of discussion about what the land could be used for, sparking various rumors about condominiums and parking lots. The interest lies in the land where the building sits, not in the construct itself.

While it seems as though those involved with St. Albans see value in its acreage, we see much more value than that. St. Albans has been an ever-standing sight when crossing the bridge into Fairlawn and has served many purposes over the years, including purposes that many students have experienced through the university.

In its ruin, St. Albans has provided an artistic scene that has been passed through the hands of many Radford University students in photography and other art classes. With its mazes of hallways and rooms, a grand staircase, and a structure that is often referred to as the “birdcage,” St. Albans provides an aesthetic experience that we should (and do) consider ourselves lucky to have readily available.

It has also served as a place of interest for many local paranormal societies, and has had nationwide recognition in the paranormal world. Last year, St. Albans hosted the New England-based, group The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), featured on the SyFy channel.

This interest has not only been in the past, but is also planned for the future. TAPS is set to return to St. Albans on Nov. 12 of this year to launch the official training program for the group and its paranormal family, The TAPS Academy.

While it is true that the building sits virtually unused, taking up space without an obvious purpose, we do not think that a solution to this “problem” is to destroy a site with such a historical significance.

The overseers are compelled to justify its existence, when its existence after all these years (as well as the number of purposes it has served over those years) should be more than enough justification for the building to remain.

Tearing St. Albans down for mundane purposes seems hardly appropriate for a structure that has stood for so long. A building that stands so strong and so massive must have the potential to serve some greater purpose than just a slab of asphalt.

With this level of use and interest, it seems obvious that we are not the only ones who see value in this historic landmark. For a brief period of time, when there was intent to have the facility repurposed, we had hope for the site. This hope, however, has severely dwindled.

The hourglass is quickly emptying as January approaches. At this point, things are looking grim for St. Albans, a fact to which we are unhappy to attest. It is our hope that someone, or some group, can see the same value that we do, and that somewhere, the resources are available to save St. Albans.