Experimental procedures commonly performed by doctors lead to the maltreatment of patients during its years in operation. Manteno State Hospital was built in 1929 and began receiving all-male patients in 1930. Its population grew steadily until its peak at 8,100 patients in 1954. Electroshock therapy treatments were introduced in 1936. The procedure involved electroshocks being delivered by two electrodes placed on the temples which generally induced seizures lasting about 20 seconds. A common side effect of this treatment was memory loss. Treatments were administered to patients on a twice-weekly basis. Hydro therapy treatments were also begun during this period. Patients were dunked in hot water then immediately dipped into cold water, with the hope of jolting out the illness and/or demons.
Other popular treatments of the day were lobotomies. Most commonly, clients who had lost consciousness while under electroshock therapy were subjected to this procedure. A long, thin piece of metal was inserted into the brain, either through a small hole drilled into the skull or through the eye sockets.
Within the next few years other experimental procedures were added to the lineup, including insulin shots given in daily doses of 100-150 units as an accompaniment to the electroshock therapy. These daily shots caused hour-long comas, during which the electroshocks were administered. Side effects of this combination often included red face, exhaustion, and jitteriness.
In 1939, with Manteno Hospital’s population of just over 5,000 patients, a typhoid fever outbreak overtook the hospital. Total estimated deaths were between 54-60 persons.
Eventually reports began to circulate of alleged patient mismanagement in the form of ill-treatment, dreadfully unclean living conditions, poor food quality, and the experimental treatments performed on the patients. The hospital finally capitulated and closed it doors on December 31, 1985. The clients still at the hospital were either allowed to leave or were transferred to the Tinley Park Mental Hospital Center in Elgin, Illinois.
Since the closure of Manteno Hospital, people have insisted that the remaining buildings not yet demolished were decidedly haunted. They sense that old patients still linger on the premises, not able to rest in peace following their deaths from maltreatment, experimental therapies or illness.
Genevieve Pilarski, fondly referred to as Gennie, has become such a legend. When Manteno State Hospital became co-ed, Gennie was committed to the institution by her parents in 1944 at the age of 25. Prior to her commitment, Gennie wanted to move away from her home town. She had been attending college and had a history with depression.
Her parents allegedly did not agree with her decision to move and took action to stop her. According to records Gennie received experimental treatments during her 30-year stay at the hospital. In 1955, after receiving a lobotomy procedure, she became deaf and dumb requiring assistance with the even most basic tasks.
Gennie spent the remainder of her life in nursing homes until her death in September 23, 1998. It is believed that her uneasy spirit is now doomed to haunt Manteno State Hospital’s Morgan Building forever. Ghost investigators have spent time at the hospital with many claiming they have had interactions with ghosts or entities, including Gennie.