Chicago State Hospital

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Chicago State Hospital
Opened 1869
Closed 1971
Demolished 1980s
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Location Chicago, IL
Peak Patient Population 5,375 in 1923
Alternate Names
  • Cook County Institution at Dunning
  • Dunning Asylum
  • Dunning Mental Institute
  • Cook County Institution at Dunning
  • Read Mental Health Facility
  • Charles F. Read Zone Center
  • Chicago Read Mental Health Center


In 1851 the county poor farm was established at the town of Jefferson, Ill., about 12 miles northwest of Chicago. The farm consisted of 160 acres of fairly improved land, and was formerly owned by peter Ludby, who located it in 1839. Additional land was purchased in 1860 and in 1884. In 1915 the land consisted of 234 acres. By November, 1854, the county poorhouse was nearly finished. The building was of brick, three stories high and basement, and cost about $25,000.

In 1858 Dr. D. B. Fonda was physician for the poorhouse and insane departments. At the time the building of the insane asylum, 200 feet south of the almshouse hospital, was contemplated. In the first biennial report of the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of the State of Illinois, dated December, 1870, occurs the following:

Although the keeper of the Cook County almshouse seems to be a humane, conscientious man, who conducts the institution to the very best of his ability under the circumstances and surroundings, it is nevertheless for so wealthy a county a miserably planned and badly managed institution.
The capacity is probably not over 450, while the number of inmates is sometimes as great as 700.
Of the manner in which the insane have hitherto been cared for nothing need be said. A new insane asylum in connection with the almshouse has been built.
The farm of 160 acres is worked in the interest of the county, the superintendent receiving a salary for his services. The inmates do nearly all the farm work, also the housework and make most of the clothing. There is a school upon the premises, which is attended by the greater part of the children between the ages of eight and 14.

The old insane department was of brick, with small barred windows, iron doors, and heavy wooden doors outside, with apertures and hinged shutters for passing food. The cells were about seven by eight feet; they were not heated, except by a stove in the corridor, which did not raise the temperature in some of them above freezing point; the cold, however, did not freeze out the vermin with which the beds, walls and floors were alive. The number of cells in this department was 21, 10 on the lower floor and 11 on the upper floor; many of them contained two beds,

The other buildings were all frame; they were more like barns or barracks-immense areas of bare floors, crowded with cheap iron strap bedsteads. The heating was insufficient; there was no ventilation; the arrangements for bathing were so imperfect, there being no hot water, that during the winter months the inmates were not bathed; even in summer the number of tubs was too small and they were inconviently located. There were no halls in these buildings, the entire space being divided into rooms; the stairways were either on the outside or in the center of the room.

In the report for 1878 it is stated that the Cook County poorhouse :is a rookery and should be torn down." The plans for additional buildings for the infirmary were drawn by John G. Cochrane, the architect, and the designs submitted by him were adopted by the county on the 22d of September, 1881.

The contract for the erection of the buildings was awarded in June, 1882, to Messers. McGraw & Downey, who completed their part of the work in time for the institution to receive inmates by June the following year.

They consisted of nine separate and distinct buildings, connected by corridors arranged in a semi-circular form, with a frontage generally to the south. In front of the circle were the administration and the four dormitory buildings; immediately in the rear was the central building, and on either side of this the hospitals and dining rooms; in the rear of these were the kitchens and laundry houses, all connected by corridors. The construction was of brick and three stories in height.

In 1884 the infirmary had accommodations for 1000 patients. The patients were transferred to the county infirmary at Oak Forest, Ill., in December, 1910, and the buildings of the infirmary were used to house the insane.

In January, 1912, fire destroyed the central portion of the building, which contained six wards, operating room, two congregate dining-rooms, kitchen, chapel and the corridors leading from the was to the west wings. However, the fire did not destroy the two west wings, which were nor in use, nor the three east wings, which were occupied by the insane patients. The two west wings were wrecked during the early part of 1913 in order to provide sites for cottage wards 13 and 14.

The east wings continued in use as wards for insane patients until January 9, 1914, when a fire started in the ruins at the western end of the buildings; shortly after this fire the buildings were abandoned and the contract was let to have them wrecked. The buildings were leveled during the year 1914.

The boiler room and pump house connected with the infirmary remains in use at the present time (1915). The ice-house, which was built at the same time as the infirmary buildings in 1883, is in use at the present time (1915) as a paint shop.

The Cook County Insane Asylum[edit]

The constantly increasing number of insane cases in the wards of the poorhouse soon made manifest the necessity of providing separate and suitable quarters for this class of county charges. Accordingly in 1870 the insane asylum was built. This institution was erected on the county far, a little over a block northeast of the infirmary, on the ground dotted with forest trees and gradually sloping to an artificial lake. L. B. Dixon, of Chicago, was the architect.

The asylum building had a frontage to the east of 272 feet and was divided by a center building, in which the offices were situated; the two wings were divided into wards. Each ward was 116 feet long from north to south. The central building had a frontage of 50 feet. At each extreme end of wings was a projection 20 feet to the rear for bathroom, water closets and stairs to the yards. The building was of brick, with cut stone trimmings, and was three stories high above the basement. Each wing had a center corridor 13 feet wide, with three windows on each end. The patients' rooms were on each side of the corridors. Especial pains were taken to secure a thoroughly efficient system of warming and ventilation. The heating was by high pressure steam, and ventilation was forced by two double-bladed iron fans, eight feet in diameter. The water closets were at the end of each ward. The bathrooms were adjoining at the end of each wing. There was a soiled clothes drop from each bathroom to a room in the basement. There were two bathtubs and three water closets on each floor. Each wing had a dining-room on each floor with attendants' each room adjoining. A dumb waiter extended to the basement from each dining-room. There was a linen room for each story of each wing near the attendants room. At the end of each wing there was a separate stairway with separate exits into yards for inmates.

In the rear of the insane asylum at a distance of 100 feet was the laundry building, 60 by 60 feet in size, built of brick with shingle roof two stories above the ground, with a cellar. This building was divided by a hall through its center with laundry, drying room and ironing rooms on one side, and kitchen and bakery on the opposite side. The second story was subdivided into apartments for servants employed in rooms below. This laundry building was connected with the main building by a brick corridor 10 feet wide.

All food for patients in the asylum was brought into the basement of the asylum in an iron car from the rear building, and was carried to the various dining-rooms by a dumb waiter.

The boiler, engine and fan rooms were next to the laundry building and were of brick. The fuel shed was next to the boiler house and the flour shed in the rear of the laundry building, The smokestack for the bouler was 85 feet high and 9 feet square at the base.

Pure water was supplied these buildings by an artesian well 756 feet deep. The cost of these buildings completed was $135,000. They furnished accommodations for 200 patients, giving a room to each.

In 1871, on account of the overcrowded condition of the hospital, cells were fitted up in the basement. In 1872 a new library was fitted up for the patients at a cost of $500. One of the large rooms in the rear building was fitted up as a sewing room, and this room was also used for a dance once or twice a week for the patients. In 1873 a fourth story addition was added to the main building for the insane witch was occupied during the early part of January, 1874, as an amusement hall for the patients and quarters for about 50 patients.

In 1874 a piano was purchased for the hall and a bowling alley was fitted up in the basement for the use of the patients. A reserve reservoir was built, to be used in the event of fire, the two reservoirs in the basement being used to collect rain water from the roofs for use in the boilers. A gas house was built, which introduced the lighting of the building by gas; and a small infirmary was arranged for on each ward to care for the sick and helpless patients.

During 1877 a new steam drying room was constructed next to the laundry and a new artesian well, 1207 feet deep, was bored. In the report for this year the medical superintendent complained that he was not backed up by the warden, and that he was insulted when he tried to obtain the proper amount of nourishment and its proper preparation for the patients; also that patients were not sufficiently clothed.

In a report made 1878 by the State Board of Commissioners of Public Charities the following occurs:

The insane department is a large and well built establishment constructed substantially on the principles and methods approved b y the American Association of Medical Superintendents of Hospitals for the Insane. The number of wards is 16; there are four floors and four wards on each floor. There are 437 inmates, with 100 sleeping on the floor.

There was a small amusement hall which would hold 100 persons. A few books served as a library, but no periodicals were taken. The upper floors were occupied by women, the lower floors by men. The pharmacy was in the basement. There was an icehouse on the grounds holding 300 or 400 tons. At a little distance from the main building were the barns and piggery.

Dr. John Spray was medical director from January 1, 1878, to September 1, 1882, to September 1,1884. Of the inmates under treatment during March, 1884, there were 285 males and 325 females. Out of this number only 72 were native-born Americans. Until 1882 the nearest railway station at which on could take the cars to or from the county farm was at the village of Jefferson, two mile away, on the Wisconsin division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. However, the commissioners of Cook County, seeing the necessity of having railroad communication direct for the city, built some three miles of line running across the poor farm in a southerly direction, and intersecting the St. Paul road at Galewood. This was done and the first train from the city to the county farm was started on the 11th of September, 1882.

The county also erected at its terminus of the line a handsome depot building at a cost of $2100, and the station was named Dunning, in honor of one of the oldest wealthiest settlers in the vicinity. The infirmary and insane asylum up to 1882 were under one management, a committee of five county commissioners, which had entire control. This committee appointed a medical superintendent over the asylum, a warden, matron, engineer and storekeeper, but none of these officers had any power except as directed by the committee, nor had either institution any head. Quoting from a report of the State Board of Charities dated 1878: "The warden is not head, and superintendent is not head; the real head is the committee, which has five heads."

In 1882 the county board adopted new rules, which provided that the warden and superintendent should be elected by the Board of County Commissioners. These officers were placed more directly in charge of their respective departments and given enlarged powers of management and control.

This asylum was the first in the West to appoint female physicians. It was the first in the state to appoint graduate and trained female nurses in charge of the particular nursing and administration of all drugs. The female physicians were Dr. Delia Howe, appointed May 1, 1884, and Dr. Harriet Alexander, appointed February 1, 1885.

Dr. James D Kiernan was appointed medical superintendent September 1, 1884, and was replaced by Dr. Spray September 1, 1885. The present (1915) detached was buildings were completed in 1885, at a cost of $135,000. They are two stories in height, built of brick. A large basement houses at the present time (1915) the general bathroom for patients, with a swimming pool of about 20 by 25 feet; also the carpenter shop, machine shop and mattress shop.

In 1885 there were many complaints made against appointing of employees through the political friendship of the appointing power, which resulted in the presence of many inexperienced and incapable attendants.

Dr. Kiernan, who had been medical superintendent from September 1, 1884, to September 1, 1885, read a paper before the Chicago Medical Society complaining of abuses and mistreatment of patients; and as a result a committee from the State Board of Charities investigated the institution. Several county commissioners, ex-county commissioners and about 14 contractors were removed by the grand jury. The heads of the institutions were removed and the institutions were thoroughly investigated, and it was demonstrated that extravagant management and graft existed.

In 1887 the present amusement hall was completed, having been designed as a cottage ward for patients. This building is two stories in height; the upper floor is used for an amusement hall at the present time, a large stage having been built at the north end of the building.

In 1890 Dr. John A. Benson was medical superintendent. During this year the present cottage wards 1,2,3 and 4 were completed. The buildings are built of brick and are two stories and basement high. A biological laboratory and autopsy house was also erected. The lower floor of the amusement hall was fitted up as industrial department for re-educational purposes for patients, and a teacher employed to teach industrial arts. During this year there was only one artesian well in use, which had a flow of 36,000 gallons a day, collected in two cisterns and pumped throughout the buildings. A pond behind the main building supplied the laundry, but the pond was almost dry and the artesian water supply was low, resulting in not enough water for the proper cleansing and bathing of inmates.

In 1891 Dr. Brown was superintendent, follower by James Pine as warden in 1892. In 1892 the present cold storage building was completed. This building is of brick construction and is one story high; it is situated about 100 feet east of the south end of the present store building.

In 1893 Mr Sawyer was warden. During this year the present (1915) store building was completed. This building is of brick construction and is about 40 feet by 150 feet, two stories and basement high. The south end of the building was fitted up and has been used as a drug store ever since. The present druggiest, Mr. Henry Lindlade, was appointed assistant druggiest February 24, 1894, and was the first civil service appointee as druggiest July 1, 1895.

In 1894 Mr. O. W. Nash was appointed warden; he resigned June 1, 1895, being succeeded by George F. Morgan. Mr. Morgan remained until January 1, 1897.

On January 2, 1895, the laundry building burned. The present building was completed in 1896. It is one story high and of brick construction.

During the year 1895 civil service was instituted, and the control and treatment of patients in the insane asylum was for the first time under the sole management of an able corps of physicians appointed by reason of their fitness. A medical sepervising staff was appointed September 23, 1895, consisting of Dr. Richard Dewey, Dr. Sanger Brown, Dr Archibald Church, Dr. D. W. Lewis and Dr. William Cuthbertson. This staff made the rules and regulations for the hospital resident staff.

The hospital grounds were connected with the city water mains by an 8-inch pipe, and fire plugs, with connections, were installed about the grounds.

In 1897 Mr. Albert N. Lange was appointed general superintendent. It was during this year that the present (1915) cottage wards 5 and 6 were completed. These buildings are constructed of brick, with a large day room in the center, a dormitory on each side and the dining room in the rear. The buildings face west and are on the avenue with other cottages.

During 1898 the consumptive hospital was completed. This building is situated near the southeast corner of the grounds. It is of brick construction, three stories and attic high. It has three wings like the letter T and faces south. The longest wing runs north and south. However, the west wing is longer than the east wing. In 1903 this building was remodeled and used for the physically sick insane and continues as such at the present time (1915).

Mr. A. N. Lange resigned as general superintendent November 17, 1902. On November 30,1902, Dr. John R. Neely was appointed general superintendent.

The working force of the institution was under the supervision of the general superintendent, the assistant general superintendent being in charge of the infirmary.

Dr. John R. Neely resigned as general superintendent June 1, 1903. In 1903 the present (1915) cottage wards 7, 8, and 9 were completed. These buildings were known as Group No. 1 and are located at the end of the avenue leading north from the main building for the insane. The group completes and closes the avenue. For this reason the Renaissance architectural treatment was employed to mark the middle building. A large portico is surrounded by a pediment support by Ionic columns, and the apex of the roof of the middle building marked with a colonial lantern. A covered colonade or veranda connects the three buildings and provides a passageway for the inmates of the two side cottages to and from the dining-room located in the middle building. These cottages are faced on all sides with dark red brick and have cut-stone trimmings. The roofs are covered with re tile. The ornamental colonade and the veranda are of cement and painted white. The two cottages on the sides are duplicates. They are each 100 feet long by 48 feet wide. On the first floor of each is a large dar room, 42 feet by 48 feet in size, which is lighted on four sides and opens up on the rear. The middle building is 102 feet long by 31 feet wide. On the first floor are two dining-rooms, with a common kitchen and serving room.

Dr. V. H. Podstata was appointed general superintendent June 1, 1903, in order to modernize the institution.

A training school for nurses was established. The pathological department was re-established, with Dr. M. H. McHugh in charge. The fire department was reorganized and drilled by Captains Figg and Hand, of the Chicago Fire Department. The county board authorized the appointment of internes. The cottage in the vicinity of the infirmary which was formerly used for maternity cases and cases of infectious disease was remodeled into a nurses' home; this building was wrecked during 1914.

Mr. George P. Smith was appointed business manager September 18, 1903, as a civil service appointee.

The consumptive hospital built during this year. It is situated 1500 feet west of the infirmary buildings on the Dunning Farm. It is of wooden construction and consists of five buildings, connected by spacious corridors, facing south. The middle building is two stories high and was used as the administration building for offices and living quarters.

In the year 1907 a two-story building was completed at the west end of these buildings and was used asa hospital ward for the more advanced cases of tuberculosis. There buildings became the property of the State of Illinois July 1, 1912, but the county was allowed the use of them until March, 1914.

In 1904 the hospital staff consisted of, in the insane department, three senior physicians and three internes; in the infirmary, one senior physician and three internes; in the consumptive hospital, one senior physician and two internes.

During this year the present (1915) pathological building and morgue were occupied. This building is situated about 100 yards south of the main building for the insane. It is of brick construction, two stories high, and contains a large amphitheater, where clinics are held. The present farm cottage building was also competed during 1904. This building is situated near the center of the farm, about 1400 feet west of the main building for the insane. The building fronts east and back of it are grouped the barns, chicken houses, etc. The building is 80 feet long, 54 feet wide and two stories in height; there are two one-story extensions in the rear, 27 feet by 22 feet. The construction is of brick and artistic in appearance. It was designed to accommodate 45 patients. At the present time (1915) there are 75 patients housed in the building.

The biological laboratory, which was erected in 1890, was torn down during 1904, when the new building was occupied.

During 1904 the present cottage wards 10 and 11 were completed. These building were known as Group No. 2, and are situated 125 feet north of the detached ward buildings, facing east. They consist of two-story cottages and one one-story cottage, connecting the group surrounding a court. The two larger cottages are 84 feet long by 74 feet deep. The open court is 58 feet long, enclosed by an ornamental fence.

In 1905 the first graduation exercises of the training school for nurses were held. Dr. V. H. Podstata, general superintendent, resigned July 16, 1906, to become superintendent of the Elgin State Hospital. Dr. O. C. White was appointed general superintendent, July 16, 1906. In 1906 hydrotherapeutic and electrical appliances were installed in the west basement of the hospital ward.

In 1907 a psychopathologist was appointed, and semi-weekly meetings of the staff were held for presentation of cases and discussions. The old picket fence separating the infirmary and insane asylum was torn down; 1500 small trees were purchased and placed in a nursery for transplanting. A large open ditch, which ran through the grounds, was laid with five 15-inch tile and covered over.

Four 250 horse-power water-tube boilers, equipped with traveling chain grates, were installed in 1907. Two 500 horse-power boilers were also installed, with traveling chain grates. A new smokestack, 180 feet high, was built during this year.

A system was developed for re-education purposes for the insane. Two attendants were sent to the school of civics and philanthropy with pay. One of these attendants, Miss Myra Henderson, continues at the present time (1915) in the employ of the hospital. A consulting staff of 12 physicians from Chicago was attached to the institution. Dentist T. W. Schnell visited the hospital one day each week in order to look after the dental needs of the patients.

In 1912 cottage ward No. 1 was established as an art cottage for female patients, in charge of Miss Ingborg Olson, and continues as such at the present time (1915). A gynecological service was also established. In January, 1912, fire destroyed the central portion of the infirmary buildings, which contained six wards, operating room, two congregate dining-rooms, kitchen, chapel, and the corridors leading from the east to the west wings. The fire did not destroy the two west wings which were not in use, nor the three east wings which housed insane patients.

In the year 1909 the General Assembly passed a law entitled "An Act to Revise the Laws Relating to Charities, etc." Section 20 of this act provided for the removal of the insane and feeble-minded from the county almshouses to state institutions. All of the provisions of Section 20 were complied with except that part relating to the insane and feeble-minded in almshouses in counties of over 150,000 population.

An appropriation was by the General Assembly in 1911 to provide for the insane and feeble-minded in the Cook County Hospital for the Insane at Dunning, Ill. On July, 1912, the County of Cook transferred to the State of Illinois all lands, buildings and equipment known as the Cook County Institution at Dunning, Ill., the name to be changed to Chicago State Hospital.

The details of the transfer to the state were made by a committee composed of three members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, in joint session with the Board of Administration of the State of Illinois. The committee of the Board of Cook County Commissioners was composed of Peter Bartzen, ex-officio member, Bartley Berg, chairman, Joseph Mendel and Lawrence J. Coffee. The state was represented by the Board of Administration. The appraisement of buildings, lands and furniture was made under the direction of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and the valuation is given as follows: Buildings, $983,518.06; $500,640; furniture, $34,970.

On July 1, 1912 Cook County transferred the land, buildings, and equipment of the Cook County Institution at Dunning to the Board of Administration (Board of Administration, Second and Third Annual Reports Springfield, 1913 p. 931). This institution, opened in 1869, had formerly housed the indigent, tubercular, and insane of Cook County. After the Board of Administration assumed control in 1912 the institution was used solely for the treatment and care of the insane and was renamed Chicago State Hospital.

The hospital opened a training school for nurses in 1912 and established the first state psychiatric nursing affiliation program in 1918. The Psychiatric Nursing Affiliation Program provided instruction in psychiatric nursing to students from general hospital nursing schools throughout the country.

The Civil Administrative Code of 1917 transferred control of Chicago State Hospital to the Department of Public Welfare where it remained until the creation of the Department of Mental Health in 1961. In 1970 Chicago State Hospital merged with the Charles F. Read Zone Center to become the Chicago-Read Mental Health Center.

The buildings consisted of the administration building, the detached ward buildings (2), hospital, infirmary buildings, cottage wards 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, farm wards, tuberculosis cottages (6), nurses' cottage, amusement hall, store building, laundry, pathological laboratory and morgue, power house, fire hall, horse barn, cold storage, paint shop, tool house, oil house, smoke house, bay barn, hog shed, slaughter house, chicken house and greenhouses Nos. 1 and 2.

The land consisted of 234 acres and was appraised at $2100 an acre. Of the 234 acres contained in the track which comprises the site of the hospital, 100 acres are under cultivation. The soil is black loam, about 14 inches deep, and is peculiarly adapted to the growth of fruits and vegetables.

The State of Illinois assumed charge of the Cook County Insane Asylum July 1, 1912, and the name was changed to the Chicago State Hospital.

Chicago State Hospital[edit]

When this hospital was taken over by the state Dr. F. B. Clarke, formerly medical director under the county management, was appointed acting superintendent and served as such until the time of his resignation December 15, 1912, when Dr. R. H. Rea became acting superintendent, serving until April 7, 1913. Dr. George Leininger was appointed superintendent April 7, 1913, and continues as such at the present time. Dr. H. J. Smith was transferred from the Watertown State Hospital, where he was serving as assistant superintendent, to a like position in this hospital April 17, 1913. On March 15, 1914, Dr. Smith was transferred to the Peoria State Hospital as assistant superintendent. Dr. C. F. Read, formerly assistant superintendent at the Kankakee State Hospital, was transferred to this hospital March 16, 1914, as assistant superintendent. Dr. R. H. Rea remains in the hospital as physician, having served continuously since April 21, 1910.

The medical staff was increased and additional stenographers were added in order to keep complete records of the history, etiology, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of each patient.

In December, 1913, a small one-story cottage of brick construction was opened as an unlocked cottage, and accommodates 40 female patients. This new building is cottage ward No. 12. Cottage wards 13 and 14 were completed and occupied in February, 1914. Cottage ward 14 is a parole ward and accommodates 125 male patients. Cottage ward 13 is a closed cottage for male patients. Both buildings are two stories and basement in height, of brick construction and very pleasing to the eye. In cottage ward No. 14 a billiard table has been installed and is quite popular with the patients.

The following new buildings are under construction at the present time (1915): An administration building, three stories in height, 187 feet long and 75 feet deep, of brick construction. It occupies the site of the infirmary buildings which were torn down in 1914. The building will contain the offices and living quarters of the hospital staff. Two receiving wards, both identical, of brick construction and two stories in height, one for the female and the other for male patients. The buildings are 238 feet long by 65 feet deep, and are situated opposite each other on the main driveway to the present administration building. Two infirmary cottages, to be known as Cottage Ward 15 and 16. These buildings are of brick construction, two stories in height, and situated just west of the poorhouse boiler room, fronting south on the driveway leading to the old tubercular hospital.

An untidy cottage, on story in height, of brick construction, situated just west of the nurses' home, near the main track of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. A nurses' home, three stories high, of brick construction, and situated directly west of the present paint shop, facing west. It is 187 feet long and 75 feet deep and will accommodate about 150 employees.

In the spring of 1914 the buildings which housed the consumptives under county management were thoroughly overhauled, cleansed, disinfected and kalsomined, and are now occupied by insane patients. The wards in these buildings are known as the detached wards, 5,5A,6,7,8 and 9. The furnace beating plants have been removed and steam heating is now used. A small root cellar or vegetable house was constructed for $2000. The building is 60 feet by 40 feet and situated just west of the main building for the insane.

On July 1, 1912, the nursing service consisted of four supervising nurses, 78 male and 72 female attendants. At the present time (1915) the nursing service consists of one chief nurse, two male supervising nurses, two female supervising nursing, one acting supervising nurse (female), 145 female attendants, 135 male attendants. In February, 1914, the eight-hour system was installed for the nursing service in part of the hospital, and as it proved a success it was rapidly extended, so that by the middle of May, 1914, all the employees were working on eight-hour shifts.

The present training school for nurses under state management was organized September 1, 1912, at which time 20 pupil-nurses were enrolled, nine of whom remained for the full course and graduated in June, 1914.

Under the supervision of an industrial art teacher, the female patients are instructed in plain sewing, hemstitching, drawn work, embroidery, crocheting, knitting, etc., reed and raffia work, fancy weaving, etc. The male patients are instructed along re-educational lines under the supervision of a manual training instructor. The work consists in making brushes, window shades, carpenter work and fret-saw work. Many patients are employed on the farm and in the garden.

The patients have a weekly dance which they look forward to and enjoy very much. Moving picture shows have been given. Entertainments have been given by various fraternal organizations. Baseball and other games during the summer between patients are held almost daily. Elaborate entertainments are given on Holidays, e.g., Fourth of July, etc.

Insane patients present in the hospital December 1, 1871, 216; in the hospital March 19, 1915, 3019.[1]

Chicago State Hospital’s buildings closed after it merged in 1970 with the nearby Charles F. Read Zone Center, which had opened on the west side of Oak Park Avenue in 1965. Since 1970, it has been known as Chicago-Read Mental Health Center.

Images of Chicago State Hospital[edit]

Main Image Gallery: Chicago State Hospital


  • The following is a short video produced by WBEZ "Curious City" on the hospital's cemetery.


Originally 20 acres and later expanded. An estimated 38,000 people were buried here including unidentified victims of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Potter's Field, the Cook County poor Farm, Insane Asylum and Chicago State Hospital. Most of the cemetery has been plowed under and used for housing developments, a shopping mall and parking lot, etc. All that is left is an open space called the Read-Dunning Memorial Park with a few fragments of grave markers. No new burials have been added there since sometime in the 1920's. Photos of the current Memorial Park


  1. History from "The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada". By Hurd, Henry Mills, 1843-1927, ed; Drewry, William Francis, 1860-; Dewey, Richard Smith, 1845-1933.; Pilgrim, Charles Winfield, 1855-; Blumer, G. Alder (George Alder), 1857-1940; Burgess, Thomas Joseph Workman, 1849-