East Moline State Hospital

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East Moline State Hospital
Established 1895
Construction Began 1896
Opened 1898
Current Status Active (As a Correctional Facility)
Building Style Transition Plan
Location East Moline, IL
Peak Patient Population 2,300 in 1953
Alternate Names
  • Western Hospital for the Insane
  • Watertown State Hospital
  • East Moline Mental Health Center
  • East Moline Correctional Center (Since 1980)


In 1895 the General Assembly established the Illinois Western Hospital for the Insane. A board of three trustees, appointed by the Governor, was instructed to select a suitable site within the northwestern part of the state on which to locate the institution. The board also was empowered to initiate construction plans and after completion oversee the administration of the institution subject to the inspection of the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities.

The trustees purchased land five miles east of Moline in an area known as the Watertown site. The hospital was opened in May 1898 and received its first patients from the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane at Jacksonville.

The board of trustees and the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities were abolished in 1909 as control of all state charitable institutions passed to the newly created Board of Administration. The institution's name then became Watertown State Hospital.

The Civil Administrative Code of 1917 transferred jurisdiction of the institution to the Department of Public Welfare. When the Department of Public Welfare was abolished in 1961 the Department of Mental Health assumed responsibility for the hospital. In 1975 the institution's name, which had been changed to East Moline State Hospital in 1927, was again altered to East Moline Mental Health Center.

In 1896 the first cornerstone was laid for the main building by governor Atlego, who is said to have suggested the Gothic style architecture for the main building. Despite the popularity of the new Cottage Plan buildings at Kankakee, the main building at Watertown was a modified Kirkbride. It was called "the Castle on the Mississippi". January 1898 the front wards opened and accepted 336 patients from Jacksonville. By that spring it was fully opened and had a population of just over 600 patients.

In the beginning the basement of the main building housed the carpentry shop, kitchen, bakery, laundry and paint shop. By 1905 the new 75 bed infirmary, cottages and tent colony for TB patients were completed. More projects were finished by 1910 including a 1,000 seat theater, a separate chapel and the amusement/recreation hall with capacity for 1,500. It had gymnastic equipment, pool tables, sewing rooms, 3 bowling alleys and held concerts & dances weekly.

By 1935 the hospital included 43 separate buildings on 673 acres (including farmland) and had a little over 2,000 patients. A study in 1978 suggested closing the facility, and in 1980 it's remaining 260 patients were moved to Galesburg Mental Health. The Illinois Department of Corrections took over the property and currently uses it as a minimum security facility.

State Archival Holdings for East Moline State Hospital[edit]

The Illinois State Archives holds records for this facility. There are some restrictions for privacy reasons. A list of their holdings for East Moline Mental Health Center - RG 262 is at at this link.

Images of East Moline State Hospital[edit]

Main Image Gallery: East Moline State Hospital


The cemetery is known as Resthaven Cemetery, located from the hospital. It holds about 300 former patients.