Chicago's Most Haunted - Manteno State Hospital

Chicago’s Most Haunted Countdown: #5 Manteno State Hospital

October 7, 2013 | Best Cities, Best Cities and Neighborhoods

By Jacob Rice

Chicago’s a prime location for ghosts. It has a very long history of disasters, catastrophes and psychopaths–key components of a ghostly mix. The other big factor is water and Chicago has lots of it. You see, water tends to absorb negative energy and that helps spirits synch to a location. If your city burns down (like The Great Chicago Fire of 1871) and you push its smoldering remains into Lake Michigan, you get ghosts. The same thing goes with the Chicago River: A passenger ship capsizes and 844 people drown (like the SS Eastland disaster of 1915); you get more ghosts.

To get to the point, Chicago has a lot of ghosts. There are many more haunted locations I could list, but these are the 5 Most Haunted Places in Chicago:

Chicago’s Most Haunted #5: Manteno State Mental Hospital in Manteno, Illinois

Inside Manteno State HospitalManteno State Mental Hospital opened in December 1930 and it was a cutting-edge concept for the time. Doctors would treat mentally-ill patients in a beautiful setting with cottages and dedicated staff. Patients would raise crops in nearby fields as a way to help them contribute and gain valuable skills. This was very different from the overcrowded and understaffed hospitals of the day.

Everything seemed to be going well for the first 8 years or so. Then, the Manteno Madness struck in 1939. The Madness was really typhoid fever and the administrators were too slow to respond.  It killed 47 patients by the time it was contained. Things got worse from there.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the patient population swelled. It was designed for 3600 patients and 760 staff. By 1953, the patients numbered 5300 and the staff was cut in half. Overcrowding and underfunding led to treatable diseases becoming lethal cases. Thousands of patients died during this period.

Manteno State Hospital - Chicago's Most Haunted - poetry on wallManteno became a testing ground for government scientists and psychiatrists in the 1950s. The government used the patients to test the effects of malaria and uncontrolled STDs. The psychiatrists invented electric shock therapy and lobotomies, which they perfected on the patients. You can still find the tubs where schizophrenics were plunged into ice baths to break their psychotic fits. Manteno also became a tuberculosis treatment facility with a less-than-stellar treatment record.

In 1985, the State of Illinois closed the facility and it was converted into a veterans’ home. The state hospital cemetery, not far from the home, holds the remains of the 4,000 patients who died at the hospital.

Why is Manteno State Hospital #5 on the list?

Manteno State Hospital has many spirits still walking around the old cottages, but the location is at the outskirts of the Chicago metropolitan area. It’s located in Kankakee County and that’s about a 90-minute drive from Downtown Chicago. The locals don’t necessarily want you snooping around the old cottages.

Ghost Hunting Tips

Most of the cottages have converted to business use. Only one, Morgan Cottage, remains in its original state. You can find it at the corner of Juniper Street and West Evergreen Street. Locals will be less than pleased you want to investigate, so you may get a cold shoulder if you try to interview someone.

Morgan Cottage is in very bad shape. This is a place you want to investigate during the day and with a team. It’s very easy to fall through the ceiling, so watch yourself if you go to the second floor of the cottage. It’s also very dark in interior rooms. You want to have an infrared camera because most digital cameras won’t work well in these rooms. EVP should be ripe! It’s very quiet out in the fields of northern Illinois. You can hear a pin drop in the cottage, so you may capture a few ghostly voices.

Don’t bother checking out the main hospital building on the veterans’ home campus. Security will throw you out and call the cops.

Continue the Countdown >

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