For over 10 years now, I have sporadically researched and developed The Manteno Project, a project dedicated to preserving the history Manteno State Hospital. With well over 8,000 patients, Manteno State Hospital was once the largest mental hospital in the United States.
I now no longer have the means to support The Manteno Project (hosting, time, research, etc.) and have transfered much of the information once contained on the site to facebook. The Manteno Project facebook page now thrives as an online community with over 1,600 "likes" to date.
In 1927, Illinois State Governor Len Small, the "Good Roads Governor", was building roads, expanding universities, accepting bribes from "the syndicate" (as some sources suggest) and overseeing plans for the construction of a new state hospital in Manteno, Illinois.
Although the ground wasn't broken until 1928, the plans were well underway for an institution that was to provide relief from the over crowed situations at several other Illinois state hospitals.In 1930 the Manteno State Hospital received its first 100 patients and by the end of 1985, the hospital was closed and remaining patients were sent elsewhere. For over 50 years Manteno State Hospital was an institution that cared for the mentally and physically ill, the developmentally disabled and veterans of various wars. With a peak population of over 8,000 patients, Manteno State Hospital was a self contained city with little reliability on other municipal resources.
Yet, to this day, very little is known about Manteno State Hospital,who worked there, what happened there, when it was opened, why it was closed, and how it operated. It has become a faded memory of the past, a subject of much curiosity and the setting of many a folklore and urban legend.
The Manteno Project is an attempt to solve a mystery, find out information, establish an archive of images, interviews, contributions, research and make them accessible to the public by publishing this information on the web and eventually, in a book.
Mission The mission of The Manteno Project is to gather research, personal histories, data and statistics about the Manteno State Hospital/Manteno Mental Health Center and make that information available to the public, via our fb page. The Manteno Project's purpose is to educate people and preserve the history of one of the nation's largest state mental instututions (with a peak population of over 8,000 patients).
The Project is often called upon to provide information to representatives of the media, the entertainment industry, artists, photographers, historians, healthcare professionals, researchers, educators/educational institutions, PhD candidates, organizations and individuals wishing to resolve the histories of mental illness within their own families. In the past, inquiries have been made by the Travel Channel (Most Terrifying Places in America Part 4), the BBC, the CBC, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, UCLA, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Iowa, University of the Free State in South Africa, The Daily Journal (Manteno, IL), NorthSouth Productions and many more.
Dedication The Manteno Project is dedicated to the former patients and employees of Manteno State Hospital/Manteno Mental Health Center. It is dedicated to the mentally ill, their families and those who have dedicated their lives to providing their care. This site is also dedicated to the professionals, researchers and scholars who continue to study and make progressions in the field of mental health. Lastly, it is dedicated to those curious and dedicated people who seek out asylums or dedicate their time and efforts documenting their long, yet not forgotten histories.