The ruins of Bartonville Asylum, or as it is more commonly known, Peoria State Hospital, are located west of Peoria in the small town of Bartonville, which lies directly across the Illinois River. Troy Taylor popularized this location via several books including Haunted Illinois (1999, 2004) and Haunted Decatur Revisited (2000), although it had long been an object of local curiosity. The property owners have not been amused by the asylum’s growing notoriety, and police regularly patrol the premises looking for trespassers.
According to Taylor, Bartonville State Hospital began its life in 1885 as an empty shell and faux medieval castle. No patients were ever housed or treated in the building and it was torn down in 1897. The institution was rebuilt and reopened in 1902 with a new name and a new superintendent. Now called Peoria State Hospital, a progressive physician named Dr. George A. Zeller took over the facility and instituted new, more humane treatments for mental illness. Small cottages were built to house the patients and a dorm housed the full-time staff. Essentially a self-contained community, the grounds also contained a store, a bakery, and a kitchen (Haunted Illinois, Pg. 216).
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Legends and Lore of Illinois Vol. 2 Digital Edition
Order all 12 issues of the Legends and Lore of Illinois from 2008 in a special digital edition for your favorite e-readers. Places covered in Vol. 2: Archer Cemetery, Sunset Haven, Peoria State Hospital (Bartonville Asylum), Airtight Bridge, University of Illinois, Calvary Cemetery and ‘Seaweed Charlie,’ Lakey’s Creek, Peck Cemetery, Blood’s Point Road, Old Union Cemetery, Hartford Castle, and more! Plus, read letters from our readers, book reviews, ghostly games, and put your knowledge of these locations to the test with challenging trivia questions. Don’t miss these classic issues from the archives of the Legends and Lore of Illinois.
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