Bartonville State Hospital

Bartonville, Illinois

Established in 1885

"Construction on the first buildings here actually began in 1885 and were completed in 1887. The hospital, when completed, resembled a medieval castle with battlements and turrets. It was a foreboding structure and one not fit for the kind of progressive medicine that was planned for it. Despite the huge costs involved in building it, it was never used and was torn down in 1897. The reason for the demolition was given as structural and design flaws. According to early reports, the castle-like building had been constructed over an abandoned coal mine and wide cracks were beginning to appear in the walls. The decay was believed to be caused by the collapsing of the old mine shafts.

In 1902, the hospital would reopen with Dr. George A. Zeller, a pioneer in mental health, at the helm. The new hospital implemented the "cottage system" and 33 different buildings were used to house patients. There was also a nurse’s home, a store, a power house, and a domestic building with a laundry, bakery and kitchen. Zeller also implemented a system with no window bars or restraints, something that was unheard of in those days." - from the book "Haunted Illinois" by Troy Taylor, quoted with permission. Please see the "Prairie Ghosts" web page


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