Manteno State Hospital

Download this issue!Manteno State Hospital – Manteno, IL
By Michael Kleen

Read about this location and more in Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection

Read about this location and more in Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection

Manteno State Hospital, one of two such facilities in Kankakee County, opened its doors in the early 1930s. It took several years after the purchase of the property in 1927 for the sprawling mental hospital to be completed. Like Peoria (Bartonville) State Hospital, Manteno was laid out in a “cottage plan,” which meant that the patients were housed in a series of separate buildings, rather than in one single institution. When it first opened, Manteno accommodated 5,500 patients and 760 staff.

It didn’t take long for tragedy to strike the hospital. In an incident that Time magazine referred to as the “Manteno Madness,” 384 patients and staff came down with typhoid fever (47 died) in 1939. At first, Ralph Hinton, the director of Manteno State, believed the affliction to be nothing more than a common case of diarrhea, but state welfare agents stepped in as the number of ill dramatically increased. Panic gripped the hospital.

“Patients lay moaning in bed,” Time reported. “Others, whipped by mad fear, beat against the screened windows, grappled with attendants… Every night kitchen boys and orderlies disappeared. Over 45 ran away in all.” (“Manteno Madness,” Time, 23 October 1939)

What happened next? Download the entire issue (.pdf) and find out!


Legends and Lore of Illinois Vol. 3 Digital Edition

Order all 12 issues of the Legends and Lore of Illinois from 2009 in a special digital edition for your favorite e-readers. Places covered in Vol. 3 include Lebanon Road’s 7 Gates to Hell, Ramsey Cemetery, Elmwood Cemetery’s Violin Annie, Manteno State Hospital, the Hatchet Lady of Moon Point Cemetery, Chanute Air Force Base, Ashmore Estates, Aux Sable Cemetery, Ax Man’s Bridge, and more. Plus, read letters from our readers, adventurer’s logs, Paranormal 101, and put your knowledge of these locations to the test with challenging trivia questions. Don’t miss these classic issues.

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  1. deena rothermel says:

    do you have any infor on had to set up any tours


    • i am commenting on this post. I have been in that facility and we had some strange happenings. We tried to take pictures in the mirror and the camera would die right before the pictures were taken. Later when we came home we saw orbs in the pictures of us, not in the mirror. I will never go back there again.


      • Steve says:

        When they closed the place down around 1980, we ‘explored’ the place before the VA came in. Some strange stuff…i will enlighten you, if you want, once I know you better.


      • Steve says:

        Becky, I might be interested in checking things out…if you are still out there please post


      • randy says:

        I can’t seem to find the hospital. Idk way every time the gps takes me somewhere else. If u could give me directions that would be great!


    • tracey says:

      if you get any info I would love to know it also. if you could let me know so I can tour the place. Ive never been on a ghost hunt before except my own home.


  2. Skylar says:

    The hospital is now almost completely gone. It went from being 100 buildings and now there are three that are not in use. The others are a rope making facility, a woodshop, a mental institution for boys and girls (ironic isn’t it?), storage units, some misculaneous businesses, and a bank. I only found four buildings that are still intact are verry eeirie looking. There is a church, two treatment buildings and then I had to hunt for the crematorium, but it is still there. I have always wanted to go in the underground tunnels everybody forgets about.


    • candy says:

      The tunnels under the hospital are very creepy and rumor has it that in the late 80’s they found cult stuff down there and a pentagram. There were pictures in the main builing in the basement of paintings that the patients painted and they were very distrubing I know I saw them.


      • Bryan says:

        I have been down there many times. The tunnels lead from building to building, and have an old musty smell throughout. Very dark and the paint chipping off the walls makes it seem more scary than it is. Throughout the buildings you will find old shoes, a random chair sitting in a room with no windows, but mostly it’s just abandoned, stripped clean. The Hospital that was there was their best building, I’ve been in it before they demolished it. It had an elevator in it which I believe was the only building to do so, that I was in. There was an over grown courtyard in the center and it was 4 stories tall. I know one of the buildings was used by the fire department; they would set it on fire and put it out. Almost all of the buildings contain asbestos so it isn’t too safe to walk through them. Overall the story is scarier than the buildings left behind. Your mind will play more tricks on you than something actually being there. The comment about the mirror is false. There isn’t any mirrors left up, everything has been vandalized over the years. Even the outside windows were broken out! Now they are building homes on the land, soon there will be no more of the old Psych Ward! History is the best view of the past; the buildings left are not much to see anymore.


  3. Jodie says:

    Can anyone please give me the location?


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