(Manteno State Mental Hospital)

102 Diversatech Drive, Manteno, IL

Status: Almost Completely Demolished and Repurposed; a Few Buildings Remain for Historical Purposes


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This State Hospital was commissioned in 1927 and opened in 1929; the first patients were admitted in 1930. As with similar institutions of the time its population quickly expanded long past what was the original design called for; the population reached its maximum in 1954 at 8,100. Many experimental treatments were used here such combining insulin shock with electroshock therapies. Frontal lobotomies were also practiced here with frightening frequency on patients experiencing such harmless maladies as depression.

In 1939 a typhoid fever outbreak raged with the deaths of at least 55 patients.

During World War II there were rumors of the US Army doing medical experiments unknowingly on patients. Some patients were infected with malaria – unknown to them – in attempt to find a cure of the disease. In 1941 462 patients died due to these experiments.

By the 1980′s rumors began to emerge of patient mistreatment as well as terrible living, food and sanitary conditions. The unethical treatments used on patients were also brought into question. Under heavy pressure and investigations, the hospital closed down on December 31, 1985. The campus was left derelict until October, 1986 when a Veteran’s Home was opened in many of the buildings which still operates today.

In the 21st century most of the buildings were torn down (some still remain including the Morgan Cottage) and replaced with an industrial park, a golf course and a psychiatric facility for adolescents with sexual and other behavior issues. Any still existing buildings will probably be gone before long.

The network of tunnels beneath the hospital is rumored to still exist running between the foundations of the new buildings and still connecting the old buildings.

Paranormal Activity

The apparitions of former patients and staff are still seen wandering the former grounds and buildings. Disembodied voices, screams and cries are heard. Powerful feelings of not being alone, being watched, being followed and unease are reported. Shadow figures have been seen.

Other activity: light anomalies; mysterious mists, electrical disturbances; lights flickering; touches by invisible presences; phantom knocks and bangs; phantom footsteps; objects moving on their own and windows opening and closing on their own.

The most persistent legend is that of the former patient, Genevieve Pilarski, affectionately called “Gennie”. She was forcibly admitted to the hospital in 1944 by her parents when she became depressed as a college student and expressed a desire to move away. Gennie was forced to undergo many experimental treatments including a lobotomy in 1955 which left her deaf and dumb and unable to preform even the simplest tasks without help. She was eventually shipped off to a nursing home where she died in 1998.

Gennie is, perhaps, the greatest testament to the horror of the 19th and 20th century insane asylums in North America.

Gennie is said to haunt the Morgan Cottage where her presence is often felt and her sad apparition is seen often.