Haunted Illinois Mental Hospital from Early 1900's to Reopen for Public Tours

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Various areas of supposedly haunted hospital grounds which housed a mental facility dating back to the early 1900's can now be toured by those interested with a guide

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Building at Peoria State HospitalWikipedia,org

Illinois is not short on sites that are said to be haunted. There are organized tours of some of the state’s most famous haunted locations which have tales of paranormal activities and ghost sightings. In the city of Galena there is a ghost walk where participants visit what were once buildings where mortuary preparation was provided.

Alton Illinois, hosts the annual Haunted America Conference, since the city is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country. The infamous Mineral Springs Hotel is considered by some to be possessed by demonic forces due to the number of mysterious deaths and subsequent ghost sightings that have occurred from the time it was build in 1914.

The abandoned Old Joliet Prison which operated from 1858 to 2002, has tours held at dusk led by former prison guards who add personal stories of hauntings and paranormal events that they witnessed.

Now, residents and visitors of Illinois who love all things haunted, have another site to experience. The former Illinois Asylum for the Incurably Insane. The facility was in operation from 1902 to 1973. In 1907, the hospital's first superintendent, petitioned the state legislature to change the name, as he believed no patient was truly incurable. The name was then changed to Peoria State Hospital as Peoria was the closest town at the time.

The old asylum has a long history of being associated with hauntings. One of the most famous stories involves a well liked patient, called Old Book. According to the superintendent, Dr. Zeller's memoirs when Old Book died and was being buried, everyone in attendance including Zeller himself, saw the ghost-like presence of Old Book leaning against an Elm tree.

After the patient was buried the tree began to die however any attempt to burn it or chop it down failed. It is also said that the tree wails and cries whenever anyone attempts to remove it. Eventually, the tree was struck by lightening and able to be taken down, but witnesses say that the apparition of Old Book and the wailing cries of his sadness can still be experienced today.

While the hospital shut it's doors due to lack of funding in 1973, since then people have returned to explore the grounds after accounts of paranormal activities began to circulate.

There were originally 63 buildings that made up the hospital complex and four cemeteries. Although many of the buildings no longer exist, those interested in the paranormal can now tour several of the restored buildings along with the cemeteries and ground. Starting this weekend, people can take guided tours of the former mental hospital on Saturday nights from 7 - 10 pm. The tours which are led by experienced ghost hunters, include three buildings, the monument section, all four cemeteries, and the Old State Mine Haunted Trail.

Tickets are $50 per person. The event begins at the Bartonville Event Venue, 4208 W. Pfeiffer Rd., Bartonville, IL.

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