What Little Remains
Manteno State Hospital
Located in Manteno, IL
Photo © 2005 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Manteno State Hospital History
In the 1920s, a need for an additional Illinois mental health facility began to grow as the state hospitals in Jacksonville, Elgin, and Kankakee became overcrowded. In 1929, the cornerstone for the newly dedicated Manteno State Hospital was placed, and the first patients were admitted one year later from nearby Kankakee State Hospital. The hospital was laid out in a cottage plan, with parallel streets in a city-like structure behind the administration building, creating a sense of a community rather than the old towering "asylums" of years past. Most of the cottages were one or two story buildings, in H- or E-shape footprints. All 40 cottages were uniquely named after a pioneer in the mental health field - Addams, Adler, Barton, Billings, Bowen, Brandon, Carriel, Clouston, Cullen Dewey, Dix, Drake, Dunne, Forbes, Freud, Gollmar, Goodner, Hinton, Hunter, Jackson, James, Kilbourne, Kraepelin, McDowell, Meyer, Mitchell, Morgan, Nightingale, Pinel, Prince, Quine, Rush, Silvis, Singer, Todd, Trudeau, White, Williams, Willis, Wines, and Zeller. 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 Manteno Mental Health Center, and plans to utilize several buildings for a Veterans Hospital were made. The hospital officially closed its doors after a 2-year closure process, and the Veteran's Hospital was dedicated a year later. A grant was given that same year to redevelop the rest of the closed institution into an industrial park. Most buildings were demolished in 2002-2003, while others were renovated for re-use. The administration building was remodeled and occupied by HomeStar Bank, preserving many architectural details both inside and out.