Manteno State Hospital in Illinois

Manteno State Hospital in Illinois
Manteno State Hospital in Manteno, Illinois

In November of 2010, ten individual paranormal teams met at Manteno State Hospital Morgan Cottage to explore and determine if there was any existent paranormal activity. Many accounts of screaming, crying, voices over an intercom system that no longer existed, and apparitions of doctors, nurses, and patients were reported.

Two EVPs were recorded at the investigation including a man’s voice clearly calling out to one of the investigators, “Brianna.” Another EVP recorded was “starved for attention.” In the basement, something rubbed against one of the videographers causing her to drop her camera. To hear these EVPs, see the reference section below.

Manteno State Hospital in Manteno, Illinois, opened its doors two days after Christmas Day in 1930 with the arrival of the first 100 male patients transferred from Kankakee State Hospital. The hospital was built as a series of approximately 40 buildings called cottages with nearly a mile of underground tunnels connecting the buildings.

Thousands of hurting individuals suffered through unbelievable atrocities during their time at Manteno. Many types of barbaric “treatments” were performed upon the patients including Metrazol shock therapy which began in 1936, electric shock and insulin therapies which began in 1941, hydrotherapy (which began in 1964, and consisted of dunking the patient in and out of ice cold water), and lobotomies. Horrendous experiments were conducted on the patients at Manteno, without their knowledge or consent.

In 1939, a terrible typhoid fever epidemic broke out at Manteno from July to December. Time Magazine called this incident the “Manteno Madness.” Over 453 cases of the fever broke out, and 54 to 60 patients died from it. Engineers thought a small leak in the miles of sewer system allowed contaminated water to seep into the wells.

In 1941, the United States Military conducted experiments to breed malaria in patients at Manteno in an effort to find a remedy. During that year, 462 patients died; and 198 escaped from the facility.

In 1948, research on the affect of steroids on breast cancer was conducted at Manteno State Hospital.

In 1950, research was conducted on patients with regard to the effects of medication on schizophrenia.

In 1954, Manteno was filled way beyond its capacity, housing 8,195 patients. A staff of only a little more than 200 was attempting to take care of thousands of people’s daily needs.

In 1956, this research was still ongoing, as well as research on medication and its effects on epilepsy.

In the 1970s, scandals at Manteno were revealed that included: experimental surgeries had been performed on patients during the 1950s and 1960s; a Chinese patient had been kept in custodial care because no one could speak his language; an extremely high percentage of death among patients; and many charges of immorality and sexual assaults.

One former employee at Manteno indicated that a farmer whose large corn field bordered the hospital property sold his farm because every year during harvest season, he would find dead bodies of patients who would get confused and disoriented and never find their way out of the corn field.

One of the saddest stories of a patient at Manteno State Hospital is that of Genevieve “Gennie” Pilarski who was committed there in 1944 at the age of 25 by her parents because of a “disagreement about where she would live.”

Gennie had just completed three years of college at the University of Illinois, majoring in chemistry. She was said to suffer from episodes of manic depression.

Gennie was involuntarily placed in the research ward at Manteno State Hospital where she was extensively experimented on including electric shock therapy twice weekly. By 1953, Gennie had received 187 electric shock therapies. Once after an episode of hydrotherapy, Gennie asked, “Is life a farce?” She was eventually lobotomized in 1955, and left a virtual zombie unable to speak, read, or even feed herself.

When Gennie was initially brought to the institution in 1944, the therapist noted that she stated several times: “a person that is 25 years old should be away from family entanglements.” Admission notes also indicated that Gennie was “neat, clean, and tidy,” and that, although “she was extremely quiet,” she was “friendly, agreeable, and cooperative in ward and routine.” Later a note was added that said there were “no active signs of pathology.”

After living at Manteno State Hospital for nearly 30 years, Gennie Pilarski was transferred around various wards and nursing homes throughout the rest of her life, until she passed away in 1998 at the age of 80, a ward of the state. During the last decades of her miserable life, she was “incapable of any kind of human interaction,” and stayed in her bed buried under blankets or walking the halls of the nursing home babbling incoherently and drooling.

Although Genevieve Pilarski did not physically die at Manteno State Hospital, her personality and intelligence did expire in that awful place. I have very little doubt that a part of Gennie still remains at the location where her own parents placed her to be tortured, alone, and without any hope.

Manteno State Hospital closed its doors in 1985. The only remaining building is one of the cottages, Morgan. You can find more information about Morgan Cottage’s current preservation project at:

November, 2010 Investigation:
Pictures of Morgan Cottage by Barek Halfhand: (many orbs can be glimpsed in some of these pictures)
Interesting letter from former visitor:

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