The Bartonville Insane Asylum, also known as the Peoria State Hospital or the Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane has been abandoned since 1973. Even before it was abandoned, stories about hauntings were commonplace.
One famous story is that the ghost of a former employee known only as Bookbinder, or Old Book, still lives on the grounds of the quickly deteriorating hospital. Scattered amongst the grounds of asylum are several cemeteries that were used to bury patient who passed away during their time stay at the hospital.
Bookbinder was employed as one of the several burial corp members and, whether he knew them or not, would mourn for each patient after burying them. It’s said he would stand under an old elm tree near one of the cemeteries and weep loudly after each burial. Eventually, Old Book passed away and was also buried in one of these cemeteries. According to legend, Old Book’s spirit now inhabits that tree.
It’s been claimed that several attempts have been made to remove that elm from the grounds, and each time, Old Book could be heard weeping whenever an axe was struck into the tree or whenever a crew would try to burn the tree. The Weeping Elm remains to this day.
The original design of the asylum, built in 1895, consisted of 47 buildings many of which were built in a cottage style that was prevalent for mental institutions at the time. An original main building was built to resemble a feudal castle but was never used after the mine shafts it was built on top of collapsed.
Most of the original buildings have been torn down and entering those that remain without permission is considered trespassing. But if you’re in the Bartonville, IL area and are interested in a tour, it can be arranged apparently. Check out more pictures of the Bartonville Insane Asylum below.