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Join American Hauntings as we explore the haunted confines of the Pollak Tuberculosis Hospital on the grounds of the infamous Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois. Known for the restless spirits that now roam the abandoned wards, halls, and corridors of the old building — you have to decide if you’re brave enough to join us for this nighttime investigation!
THE HISTORY OF POLLAK HOSPITAL
Pollak Hospital was built on the grounds of the Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville in 1949 to serve the needs of patients at the state asylum that were suffering from tuberculosis. The asylum itself was completed in 1902 under the direction of Dr. George A Zeller, a pioneer in the mental health field of the day. Prior to this time, mental health care barely existed. In those days, anyone suffering from a mental disorder was simply locked away from society in an asylum. Many of these hospitals were filthy places of confinement where patients were often left in straitjackets, locked in restraint chairs, or even placed in crates or cages if they were especially disturbed. Many of them spent every day in shackles and chains and even the so-called “treatments” were barbaric. Most mental patients spent their entire lives locked up inside of an asylum. Soon, though, men like Dr. Zeller began promoting the fact that the mentally ill could be helped, not just locked away and forgotten.
When the new state asylum opened, it was called the Peoria State Hospital, named for the closest large town. The hospital implemented what was called the “cottage system” and 33 different buildings were used to house patients. There was also a dorm for the nursing staff, a store, a power house and a domestic building with a laundry, bakery and kitchen.
The asylum was eventually closed down in 1973 and many buildings were destroyed or sold at auction. Most of the buildings on the old hospital property have been torn down but many of those that remain are rumored to be haunted by spirits of the past.
The Pollak Hospital was added to the state hospital campus in 1949, although tuberculosis deaths on the grounds dated back to the earliest days of the asylum. By 1906, it was the leading cause of death at the hospital and during a single year, 64 patients succumbed to the disease. The high number of deaths convinced Dr. Zeller to try and control the spread of the illness by segregating the sick in tent colonies.
The first colony at the hospital was a large porch on one of the cottages that was enclosed by heavy canvas. The canvas could be rolled up during fair weather to allow patients to take in fresh air, one of the earliest treatments for consumption. The experiment was largely successful, so more tent colonies were added to the grounds. The tent colonies remained in use until Dr. Zeller left the hospital in 1913.
Tuberculosis, though, continued to be a problem. In 1937, patients and employees of the asylum were tested by Dr. M. Pollak, director of the Peoria County Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and it was discovered that more than half of all of them tested positive for tuberculosis.
In 1949, the Pollak Hospital and Infirmary Building was built to care for patients with tuberculosis. The northern wing was for female patients and the southern wing was for male patients. It was named in honor of Dr. Pollak, who carried out the exhaustive research at the asylum in 1937.
By 1973, the Pollak Hospital was one of the last buildings on the grounds of the asylum that were still in use.
During the hospitals years of operation, hundreds died within its walls and according to stories and eyewitness accounts, scores of their spirits stayed behind to walk the wards and hallways of the crumbling building.
Are you ready to spend the night searching for evidence of the ghosts that remain? Join American Hauntings at the Pollak Hospital for a night that you won’t soon forget!