The Manteno State Hospital was constructed in 1929. The patient population remained under the 1,000 mark until the 1930s, where it quickly swelled to its peak of over 8,100 in 1954. In addition to treating people with psychiatric disorders, the hospital also served as a treatment center for typhoid outbreaks, and also had a dedicated tuberculosis building. The hospital became short on staff during World War II, and this problem persisted throughout the life of MSH; may scandals and reports of abuse began to surface as the patient to staff ratio became more dramatic.
During the 60s and 70s, the hospital consisted mostly of elderly patients and voluntary alcoholics. Homeless who were found without any backgrounds from Chicago were also sent to Manteno. The hospital was never designed to house dangerous patients, however people found innocent of a felony by reason of insanity yet deemed too dangerous to be set free were being sent to MSH in the later years. These "mittimus" patients (as they were called) created a concern in the community when escapees were reported, so in 1977 a building was converted as a secure area for mittimus residents, who were not allowed off campus.
In 1983, a decision was made to close the Manteno Mental Health Center.
Many individuals in search of the paranormal who wander around the hallways and rooms of the buildings that are still standing have stated hearing voices, crying, screaming, etc.
Imagine what it was like. People mentally ill roaming the halls in a daze due to shock treatments, yelling and screaming through the night and pounding on doors and walls.
Therapy like shock treatments, lobotomy, fever cabinets...the hospital housed over 8,000 patients at one time with only 200 staff.
© Glenn Nagel Photography