Bartonville State Hospital

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Bartonville State Hospital
Construction Began 1885
Opened 1902
Closed 1972
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Peoria, IL
Peak Patient Population 2,800 in 1952
Alternate Names
  • Peoria State Hospital
  • Peoria State Hospital for the Incurable Insane
  • Illinois General Hospital for the Insane
  • Bartonville Asylum


Construction on the Bartonville State Hospital began in 1885, and the main structure-an enormous building most closely resembling a medieval castle-was completed in 1887. The building was never used, apparently due to the structural damage caused when the abandoned mine shafts it was built over collapsed. The psychiatric hospital was rebuilt in 1902 under the direction of Dr. George Zeller and implemented a cottage system of 33 buildings, including patient and caretaker housing, a store, a power station, and a communal utility building. Zeller was considered a pioneer of a kinder generation of mental health care, using no window bars or other restraints in his design.

At its peak in the 1950s, Bartonville housed 2,800 patients. The hospital remained in operation until 1972. After its closing, the buildings remained unused and were auctioned off to anyone who would demolish them. Due to the bankruptcy of the intended buyer, however, the buildings are now the property of Winsley Durand, Jr., who has converted most of the structures into office space.

In July 2008, the non-profit group "Save The Bowen, Inc." purchased the former nurses residence, known as the Bowen Building. They are beginning the task of restoring it to it's original condition.

In September 2017 the Bowen Building was torn down so the city could salvage the limestone. After 122 years the Peoria State Hospital was no more.

Images of Bartonville State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Bartonville State Hospital


Since the closing of the State Hospital, all records have been (and remain) closed. The last body laid to rest was in 1973. The State of Illinois decreed that historians and genealogists can not record the names, birth & death dates of any grave. Over 1500 are identified and those are recorded. But many of the remaining graves bear only a number & the State of Illinois will not release information even under a Court Order to do so.



  • Bittersweet Memories: A History of the Peoria State Hospital, by Gary L. Lisman and Arlene Parr
  • Asylum Light: Stories from the Dr. George A. Zeller Era and Beyond; Peoria State Hospital, Galesburg Mental Health Center, and George A. Zeller Mental Health Center, by James Sheridan Ward
  • The Architecture of Madness-Insane Asylums in the United States by Carla Yanni


  • The following is a three part series done by Janette Washington as part of a senior thesis.