[Mysteriousheartland.com] Long rumored to be haunted, Peoria State Hospital’s majestic Bowen Building in Bartonville, Illinois may soon join the list of legendary locations lost to the wrecking ball. According to WMBD News, Bartonville’s board of trustees approved a $400,000 loan earlier this month that will cover the cost to demolish the Bowen Building. The village hopes to recoup its investment with the sale of the building’s limestone blocks.
Janette Marie, creator of the documentary For the Incurable Insane, is devastated by the potential loss. She told us in an October 2015 interview, “So much time and passion has brought the building to a way better physical state than it has been in for years; but earning a few dollars per tour isn’t going to realistically raise enough substantial money required to bring that building to code for operation.”
“I can’t even imagine how horrible that day will be for not only me but also, all those who love the Peoria State Hospital and want to see the Bowen saved. It’s a horrible feeling to think of people who don’t care about its historical significance, sitting behind the controls of a wrecking ball.”
Late last year, Sylvia Shults, author of a book about Peoria State Hospital called Fractured Spirits, made a passionate plea to save the building. “There’s a good reason the Bowen Building is so iconic in many people’s minds in this area. Many people living in the Peoria area have memories of going to visit relatives in the hospital. When the weather was nice, most of those family visits took place on the lawn of the Bowen, with that stately stone building forming the backdrop to many family memories. Tearing the Bowen down and selling it for scrap would be like selling off people’s memories brick by brick.”
With funding approved to cover the cost of demolition, it looks like the Bowen Building might be nearing the end of the road, a road that started with the promise of revitalization based on paranormal tourism. In April 2012, the Bartonville village board agreed to loan Richard Weiss $340,000 from a village TIF account to rehabilitate the building. Weiss planned to pay back the loan by holding paranormal-themed events and tours at the building. The plan ran into trouble when asbestos abatement proved too costly.
Losing yet another historical Illinois landmark to the wrecking ball will be a heavy blow to this central Illinois community.
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