(Alton Mental Health Hospital)(Alton State Hospital)
4500 College Avenue
Status: Active Forensic (Criminally Insane) Hospital; Government Owned
No Public Access
Plans for this hospital date back to 1911 from the Illinois General Assembly when funds were put aside for the creation of another State run hospital for the insane. Despite calls for the institution to be built close to the Chicago city center Alton was picked as the site.
The hospital was completed in 1917 – although patients were transferred from Anna State Hospital in December of 1916 and put in temporary housing – and control was transferred to new Department of Public Welfare.
A training school for nurses was created in 1921.
During it’s history this hospital used methods which would be considered torture today but were considered feasible treatments at the time including: lobotomies, electro-shock therapy, insulin shock therapy and cold water therapy.
In 1961 the Department of Mental Health took over ownership and control of the facility. In 1975 they changed the name to Alton Mental Health Center.
This facility is still active and now houses those found not guilty by reason of insanity. There is no access to the institution and any curious investigators will be told politely, but firmly, to leave.
The reports of paranormal activity are from staff over the years as there is no public access to the buildings.
The most common reported activity is whispers by unseen entities including entire conversations and multiple reports of someone saying ‘Who’s that?” This whisper is reported as being in a very meek tone.
Doors in the hospital have closed suddenly completely on their own.
There are many reports of being touched by unseen entities – commonly feels as it invisible hands are reaching out to touch people.
One photo taken on site appears to be an orb with a male face in tremendous pain inside it.
Other Activity: phantom footsteps; shadow figures and feelings of not being alone.
By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Mcpikemansioncrew&action=edit&redlink=1" class="new" title="User:Mcpikemansioncrew (page does not exist)">Mcpikemansioncrew</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Construction was begun on the manor in 1869 for Henry Guest McPike. He would name the 16 room mansion and 15 acre estate Mount Lookout as it was built on one of the highest points in Alton.
In 1925 the house was purchased by Peter Laichinger who moved in and rented out the extra rooms. Laichinger would pass away in 1945 leaving the mansion empty and abandoned. It was originally planned to demolish it and build a shopping mall but zoning issues put an end to that.
Being named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 kept the house standing but still abandoned. The house suffered terribly from neglect and vandalism – plus the elements – until Sharon and George Luedke bought it at auction in 1994.
Their original plan was to convert into a hotel with State or Federal Grants. When the Grants failed to come through the Luedkes were left to refurbish the house on their own. They now give tours and allow paranormal investigations via donations given to fix the house.
This location is considered one of the most haunted places in the State in a town considered to be the most haunted in the entire State. Eleven ghosts have been identified in the house.
Stories of paranormal activity date back to when it functioned as a guest house meaning, remarkably, it was haunted before some of its ghosts now had passed away. Many believe the haunting dates back to before the house was even built with an Indigenous person’s ghost still sometimes seen.
Former owner, Peter Laichinger, is seen standing in the windows looking outside. He tends to disappear once he is seen. Other apparitions have been seen in the house's windows as well.
Large amounts of energy pour out of the cellar. Mediums have sensed the energy of the original owner of the house: Henry McPike.
The phantom sounds of children laughing and playing – this dates back to the early 20th century.
The phantom smell of lilac perfume thought to be related to a former servant Sarah Wells. This is most common on the third floor.
Other Activity: phantom sounds of metal doors being scraped on the floor; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; light anomalies; mysterious mists; shadowy figures and figures outlined in light appearing in photos and feelings of being watched and not being alone.
In 1870 the County purchased 170 acres of land for the construction of new poor farm. The land now occupied by Ashmore Estates today is on part of this land.
This original poor house was on the property until 1911 when it was condemned. There are 2 pauper cemeteries in the area related to this original facility.
As early as 1902 the facility was failing it’s inspections with no proper ventilation, no fire safety and the provisions for the mentally ill where not sufficient; meaning no restraint system in place for them.
In 1911 it was actually condemned by the County for all of the above and being completely vermin infested especially with flies who crawled all over everything including the food.
In March of 1916 the contract to build the new almshouse (poor house) was granted for $20,389 (just short $570,000 in 2023 dollars).
In 1959 the County retained ownership of the farmland but sold the building.
A corporation bought the building and converted it into a private insane asylum called Ashmore Estates. The asylum closed in 1964 due to financial issues.
In 1965 the building re-opened to house mentally and developmentally disabled patients who were being released in mass as the old giant asylum system was closing down.
Paul Swinford and Galen Martinie bought the facility in 1976 and invested over $200,000 (just over $1 million in 2023 dollars) into updating and expanding the building. It took until the 1980’s to complete the construction and updates.
Despite entering into a partnership with a corporation the licenses needed to run the facility were never granted by the State.
In April of 1986 Ashmore Estates filed for bankruptcy being over 1.5 million dollars in debt. The facility was closed in 1987 and abandoned.
In 1990 Swinford once again tried to open the facility this time as a home for mentally ill teenage boys. Once again, the State refused to grant the licenses needed due to fire safety issues and community resistance.
In 1998 the property was sold with the intention of converting it into a private home. This plan failed due to repeated vandalism at the property.
In 2006 the property was sold again and converted into a haunted house attraction. The owner lived on the property to discourage any vandalism.
In 2013 a terrible storm moved through the area and badly damaged the building. The State Inspectors rated the building unsalvageable and a total loss.
In 2014 Robbin and Norma Terry (the current owners) bought the building and renovated it. They now run it as a very successful paranormal investigation site.
There have been more than 100 deaths on the property; possibly a lot more.
This site has been investigated by pretty much every TV or YouTube paranormal group.
Anyone sensitive to the etheric has described and very heavy energy surrounding the building that only gets stronger once you enter.
Activity at this location has been so intense and frightening paranormal investigators have fled the building before their investigation time is up.
In the former kitchen something unseen knocks on the windows.
In the boiler room there is an entity that calls people names and has scratched more than one investigator.
In the former dining room light anomalies have been seen by the naked eye and shadow figures crawl along the walls.
Other reported activity: apparitions of former residents and staff; disembodied cries for help and voices; phantom whispers directly into your ear; touches, pokes and prods by unseen entities; electrical disturbances and feelings of not being alone – it is said you never alone at Ashmore Estates – and being watched.
601 W Main Street
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
Status: Former Residence, Murder Site, Bed & Breakfast, Commercial Business?
This house was originally built in 1907 but what is of concern to the haunting is that it was the scene of a double murder on December 12, 1928 at about 11:45pm.
At that time, it was the home of the former mayor JC Hundley and his wife, Luella. Mr Hundley was shot at close range by a small caliber pistol in the back of his head while he lay in bed. There is a theory that his killer was hiding behind the headboard of the bed.
Mrs Hundley was then murdered either while attempting to flee or while running to the aid of her husband. Her body was found at the base of the back stairway shot once in the head and once in the heart. To this day a bullet hole remains in the back stairway.
The police brought in Mr Hundley's son, from a previous marriage, Victor who lived right next door. He was later released for lack of evidence and the crimes remained unsolved to this day.
At least until a year ago, this home was operated as a bed & breakfast. Its status is unclear now. Google identifies it as a glass cutting business but all the reviews are for the bed and breakfast. There is no phone number or website to verify what the building is being used for.
There are reports of phantom screams echoing from the house; especially around the time of the murders each night.
Phantom footsteps and disembodied voices are also heard. Doors open and close on their own and electrical disturbances are also reported.
This location also has one very curious level of paranormal activity - if red roses are placed in one particular room they will die very quickly.
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This restaurant was first opened in 1922 with a tavern and grocery store on the first floor and lodging for the owner and his family on the second floor.
Since then, the restaurant has only been sold twice. In its current form it is quite famous for its burgers.
In the late 1950’s a bartender, who was working at the restaurant, began dating a very attractive woman with blonde hair. At some point she came to the restaurant to see her boyfriend and a fight broke out between them.
In some cases, the story says she brought her daughter with her and became angry when the bartender wouldn’t watch her daughter for her.
Either way, the woman became so upset she left the restaurant and was involved in a fatal car accident.
The story is that the ghost of woman did not appear until the major renovations – began by a new owner – were started in 1974. Her ghost is sometimes seen either at the bar or walking through the restaurant but, most frequently, she is seen in an upstairs window and is known for waving at men.
The second story window appears to be boarded up in recent photos.
Other Activity: phantom sounds of a baby crying – perhaps the said daughter from the story -; pots and pans banging together on their own in the kitchen; knocking sounds on the walls; phantom footsteps and the jukebox turning itself on.
The ghost has been verified by mediums who say she is a young and very pretty blonde woman who seems to be looking for a lost love.
(Lincoln Square Theater)
141 North Main Street
Status: Disaster Site; Vaudeville Theater; Historical Theater
The first building on this site was the Priest Hotel which opened in 1860. The hotel went through a number of owners and name changes until 1892 when Augustine Wait took over and changed the name to the Arcade Hotel; later the Decatur & Arcade Hotel.
In 1904 a fire completely destroyed the building; but it was rebuilt. It is unknown how many fatalities occurred in this first fire. On April 21, 1915 another fire broke out and again completely destroyed the building. This time the official death toll was 2 men whose bodies were found in the rubble. There was also a number of guests unaccounted for who probably were burnt to ashes in the fire and thus their remains were never recovered.
In 1916 the theater was built over the same location the hotel burned down in. Due to the 2 fires at the hotel, as well as many other public buildings, one of the biggest features of the theater was that it was guaranteed 100% fire proof – which is, of course, impossible – but great advertising. To accomplish this the boilers were in another building and separated from the theater by a firewall.
Some of the most famous acts of the early to mid 20th century played here including Ethel Barrymore, Bob Hope and Al Jolson. Legend says even Harry Houdini performed here before he became famous. It is known that Blackstone, another famous illusionist and Houdini’s rival, did perform here multiple times.
By the 1940’s moving pictures had replaced live acts.
In both 1942 and 1960 the “fireproof” claim was tested by major fires in surrounding buildings. On both occasions the theater was not damaged and lived up to it’s claim.
In the 1980’s the theater was leased by a corporation who stripped it of everything valuable and left the building to rot. By the 1990’s it wasn’t safe for anyone except the bats who roosted in it.
Thankfully a restoration company took ownership and has been working on the building ever since. You can even donate toward their efforts on their website (link above).
Reports of paranormal activity in the theater date back to the 1930’s.
Many believe the entire city of Decatur is built on an ancient Indigenous burial ground.
Many consider this location the most haunted theater in the State and one of the most haunted buildings in the entire Country. One of the reasons thought to be the cause of so many spirits being here is that the theater was built, essentially, on the resting place of those burned to ash in the hotel fires.
The most famous ghost is that of Red who was a stagehand in the theater during the vaudeville era. The dramatic story says one night, during a performance, Red fell from the catwalk. After catching himself on the curtain hooks – and losing an arm – he crashed to the stage dead.
Truthfully, he lost his arm fighting World War I and died of natural causes in the theater while taking a nap.
Red is blamed for phantom footsteps and other strange noises that echo through the building.
There is also a hazy apparition of a woman who is seen up in the balcony often seeming to be watching the shows. People in the balcony have seen her as well – usually out of the corner of their eye – or had her brush past them in the aisleway.
The most haunted part of the theater is said to be a rickety metal spiral staircase in a back corner of the backstage. People have heard someone coming up the stairs behind them only to find the stairs empty below, disembodied whispers are frequently heard both around and on the stairs. The shadowy apparition of a man is seen on the stairs as well; usually by people on the ground looking up the staircase.
There are numerous other stories of people seeing someone duck into a doorway, or behind some curtains etc only to realize there was no one there.
Frequently the seats in the theater lower themselves as if someone unseen is taking a seat.
Other Activity: touches, tugs and pulls by unseen presences; cold spots; objects moving on their own; unexplained noises; electrical disturbances; light anomalies and feelings of being watched and not being alone.
This prison was opened in 1858 when 33 inmates from Alton arrived to continue the construction. During the Civil War both inmates and POWs were confined here. By 1872 the population had reached 1,239 which was a record for a single prison at the time.
The prison originally held female prisoners as well in a separate building but in 1896 a new women’s prison was built across the street and by 1933 all female prisoners had been moved over.
The Stateville Correctional Center opened in 1925 and that was supposed to result in the closure of Joliet due to its outdated infrastructure and slow modernization but that never happened. It is unclear why the State didn’t close Joliet as had been planned but is probably due to the large prison populations.
By the 1960’s the prison contained both a permanent population and a reception and classification center where inmates were held for about a month before being transferred to their final holdings. The prison processed about 20,000 of these prisoners each year.
In 1990 the prison population peaked at 1,300 but began to drop into the early 21st Century. By 2002 Joliet was only a holding prison with obsolete infrastructure and buildings so old they were too dangerous for human habitation.
That year the Prison was closed and remained abandoned until 2018 when the Joliet Area Historical Museum took over. The former prison is now open to the public and offers a number of different tours including a Haunted History Tour in the evening which doesn’t include paranormal investigating but focuses on some of the prison’s most notorious residents.
The prison hosted some famous criminals over its history including John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck and Adolf Luetgert.
Apparitions of former inmates and employees. Feelings of being watched, being followed, not being wanted, sadness, anger and pure fear. Disembodied voices, phantom footsteps, screams, bangs and other loud unexplainable noises. Doors opening and closing on their own and objects moving on their own. Shadow figures.
Light anomalies; mysterious mists; electrical disturbances; touches, pulls and tugs by unseen presences; feelings of oppression and claustrophobia including difficulty breathing; responses to investigator’s questions by knocks or other stimuli.
8900 Archer Avenue (Willowbrook Ballroom – destroyed by fire) to 7201 Archer Avenue (Resurrection Cemetery)
Status: City Street; Legend; Cemetery
The legend of Resurrection Mary dates back to the 30′s when the first reports of encounters with her began to emerge. It begins on an evening some time in the early 30′s or late 20′s at a night club called the Oh Henry Ballroom (Willowbrook Ballroom) where Mary was dancing with her boyfriend.
At some point they had a fight and Mary decided she would rather walk home than get a drive from him. At some point in her walk along Archer Avenue she was hit by a car (that fled the scene) and left her to die in the ditch. She is said to be buried at Resurrection Cemetery that is also on Archer Avenue.
Since then, there have been at least 3 dozen substantiated reports of encounters with Mary and countless non-confirmed ones.
Mary has also been linked to other clubs in the Chicago area where she has been picked up by cab. Some researchers have linked her to Mary Bregovy who died in a car accident on The Loop in Chicago in 1934 – curiously the grave of Ms. Bregovy lists her death year as 1922. Others say she’s Anna “Marja” Norkus who died in a car accident while coming home from the Oh Henry Ballroom in 1927.
All reports indicate the apparition of Mary is dressed in a white party dress, has blue eyes and light blonde hair.
Many drivers and cabs have reported picking up a girl with light blond hair, blue eyes and wearing a white party dress (most commonly on Archer Ave but she has been spotted in other places). She has often been reported wearing a light shawl and carrying a small clutch purse and her dancing shoes. Generally, she is reported to be very quiet until passing the Cemetery.
She gets in the car after waving it down for a ride and when the driver passes Resurrection Cemetery, she cries out for them to stop. She exits the car and then runs into the Cemetery and disappears. At least one cab driver is reported to have come into the bar across the street looking for the woman who stiffed him on his fare.
Mary also has been seen walking along the road in front of the cemetery and has repeatedly run in front of cars traveling on the road only to disappear completely when the driver stops. There have often been reports, as well, of Mary leaving a car without opening any doors.
There is also at least one report of her asking a driver to stop elsewhere on Archer Avenue and pointing to the side of the road saying, “there; it happened to me there” before disappearing. All that was beside the road in that location was an old broken-down shack.
Famous Encounters with Mary
In 1939 Jerry Palus met a girl at the Liberty Grove and Hall (not the Willowbrook Ballroom) who he believed was Mary. He danced with her and they even kissed before she asked him for a ride to her home on Archer Ave. She exited the car at Resurrection Cemetery and vanished.
In 1973 Mary is said to have been seen at Harlow’s Nightclub on Chicago’s southwest side. That same year a cabbie entered the bar across from the Cemetery looking for the young girl who fled his cab.
In August of 1976 it is said that Mary grasped the bars of the cemetery gates and burned them. The cemetery administration firmly denies this saying the burn marks were caused by a truck. They also firmly deny the existence of any ghost.
In 1979 a young girl described as a real looker with blonde hair was picked up by a cab at a shopping center on Archer Avenue.
In 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1989 there were numerous reports of a young girl matching Mary’s description running in front of cars in front of the Cemetery. Drivers say they nearly hit her but she always vanishes before they can get out of their cars.
To this day Mary is still seen on the side of Archer Avenue frequently looking distraught. If you’re male – Mary has never asked a woman for a ride – and very lucky; she will flag you down and ask for a ride.
Would you grant her wish?
(Manteno State Mental Hospital)
102 Diversatech Drive
Status: Almost Completely Demolished and Repurposed; a Few Buildings Remain for Historical Purposes
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.
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.
This legendary cemetery was founded in 1844 and has not been used for burials since 1965. Most of the interned were early settlers from Europe to the United States from countries such as Germany and Sweden.
Once on a branch of the Midlothian Turnpike it is now only accessible only along a dirt pathway leading to a fence around the cemetery. The last road to the cemetery was closed in 1994 and there are plans to remove even the dirt pathway effectively removing the location from any map as well as any easy access.
Once filled with more than 200 headstones only 20 remain now due to continuing vandalism. The remaining grave sites has been encased in concrete due to numerous graves being dug up.
Orbs, apparitions, phantom steps and disembodied voices as well as EVP. There are also many reports of Satanic rituals taking place on the grounds – a (urban) legend that seems to be tacked on to any haunted location near a major city.
As well there is a stagnant pond on the site which was supposedly used during the Prohibition era by gangsters as a body dumping ground; including the infamous Al Capone himself.
The ghost of a farmer and his horse has also been reported near the pond as reportedly they drown there in the 1870s.
The is also a house that seems to be able to either time or dimensionally shift as its there sometimes but not others. No has ever been able to get close to it; let alone inside it.