Bartonville Asylum Investigation 2015

The first buildings of the Bartonville Insane Asylum began in 1885 and were completed in 1887. Upon completion the hospital resembled a medieval castle with battlements and turrets. Despite the huge costs involved in building it, it was never used and was torn down in 1897. The reason for the demolition was given as structural and design flaws. According to early reports, the castle-like building had been constructed over an abandoned coal mine and wide cracks were beginning to appear in the walls. The decay was believed to be caused by the collapsing of the old mine shafts.

In 1902, the Bartonville insane asylum was reopened by Dr. George A. Zeller, a pioneer in mental health. The new hospital implemented the "cottage system" and 33 different buildings were used to house patients.

Dr. Zeller also realized that a system was needed for the burial of the dead at the hospital; a hospital cemetery was created a short distance away from the building. All of the graves in the cemetery were dug by patients of the hospital and some records show that patients died almost daily.

The institution finally closed down in 1972 and has stood vacant until 2008 when the property was purchased by Richard Weiss and was briefly open for ghost investigations and tours before being closed again for asbestos related issues. It was officially reopened again in November of 2012.

Located at: 4125 Pfeiffer Rd. Bartonville, IL. 61607

Telephone: 309-202-1035

Owners: Richard Weiss



Hauntings: Many psychics and ghost hunters alike agree the building is haunted; the atmosphere alone is enough to convince someone. A very uneasy feeling is a common experience upon entering the building. The institute is said to be home to a large number of ghosts, a specific number cannot be given but claims suggest at least 15 different ghosts inhabit this location. This is a classic building for the creation of ghosts due to the practices of the hospital when it was open, electric shock therapy and prolonged isolation were common practice. Many patients died from suicide and being ill treated. The most common reports of hauntings at this location include seeing the apparitions of patients dressed in gowns slowly walking the halls and rooms of the hospital. Unexplainable cold spots are common, as are hearing screams and moans coming from empty rooms in the distance. Also people who have ventured into the asylum have claimed to of been touched by the spirits, with feelings such as a hand being placed on one's shoulder or something gently brushing past as if walking the other way down a corridor. The hospital is now abandoned and trespassers onto the property, as well as those who venture onto the near by cemetery will be arrested.

Attic: sounds of movements are heard, a big tall shadow of a man walks back and forth and people have been cursed at by some spirits. Dr. Zeller used to watch everyone from the upstairs windows but it was mainly used for storage. Black shadows are also seen on the other end of the attic near some stairs where a maintenance worker hung himself. His name could be Ben. Voices are also heard nearby. A spirit named Walt who is not a nice individual and doesn’t like woman is often encountered. Sounds of footsteps and people’s hair being touched a lot frequently happen.

3rd Floor: The room next to the lobotomy room people hear “help” a lot and a woman crying. Paul and Michael are two names associated with this area. In the hallway, shadows are seen moving and once a white light was encountered that rose to the ceiling and seen within the light was the image of a woman. In the observation room, there is a man that needs help. A person once closed the door in the other room and heard an old lady’s voice say, “Don’t close the door!” A man is sometimes heard grunting as well. In the nearby Medication Room, the sound of furniture moving around, footsteps and talking are encountered.

2nd Floor: In the Nurse’s Break Room is where the famous picture of a ghost of a nurse was taken from outside the building; also the sounds of voices and walking are heard.

1st Floor: A ghost named Laura is often encountered here but usually only by females. Men don’t have much luck in contacting Laura who is often seen dressed in a white gown, very pale almost blue face with dark black eyes.

Basement: In a room with a ball as a trigger object, the ball often moves on its own. Two ghosts are said to be connected with this room; Erin, 8 and Sarah, 5 and shadows are seen in the doorways. In the formaldehyde Room, strong smells and twinkles of light seen in the corner of the room are the two most often encountered phenomena. In the Boiler Room, a talkative spirit called Ralph can be found; while just outside of the room two spirits, Dave and Dan have been contacted in the past. At the opposite end of the basement, extreme cold spots and big black masses have been felt and seen in the past. In the Chapel, a spirit called John hangs out there and apparently he’s not so nice. In the Storage Unit, people get creepy feelings, smell a flowering smell and often hear whistling sounds.

The GRS investigated Bartonville Asylum on May 6, 2015 and the team included: Katie Para, Marge Sucha, Katherine Meagher, Michael Wright and Dale Kaczmarek with help from Jeanne Chilton and Mike McElhiney and his wife from PRIOM and Bob Davies and Adam Hayes from Champaign Urbana Paranormal Society.








Equipment Setup: There was no Command Center set up this time however a static camera with an IR illuminator was set up on the 2nd floor along with an REM Epod.

Experiments Performed: An EVP, Ovilus X and Ghost Box sessions was conducted in the attic and the 3rd Floor, autopsy room in the basement and the chapel in the basement.

Personal Experiences:

Kathie Para: Members of Ghost Research Society investigated the Bowen Building along with a few members of two other groups: CUPS and PRIOM. GRS members present were: Dale, Marge, Mike, Kat and me.

This was my second time in this building and my expectations were high after all the activity I experienced more than two years ago on my first visit there.

We opted for mostly hand held equipment, with the exception of a few stationary video cameras, instead of a full set up.

Before our initial walk through Richard Weiss, owner was telling us about recent activity in the building. He talked about how they had several plastic Easter eggs that they had been using as trigger objects, placing them around the building only to find them in other locations later. I believe movement of the eggs was actually witnessed. During Richard’s story, one of the guys was getting his equipment ready before we started and when he turned on his Ovilus the word “eggs” immediately was spoken. Just the one word, “eggs” nothing else. That was a pretty amazing start to our night.

We concentrated on a few areas, the autopsy room in the basement, and the chapel in the basement, 2nd floor hallway and the attic. The autopsy room seemed pretty quiet, although there was unexplained whispering while we were in there. The chapel temperature dropped nearly ten degrees in a matter of minutes with no explanation we could find and two investigators saw a shadow scurry. When we were winding up our session there we got a clear response telling us goodbye from the Ovilus. We got several seemingly relevant responses from both the Ovilus and ghost box during the night but this one made me chuckle. I felt like someone was trying to tell us not to let the door hit us on the way out.

Entering the second floor hallway Dale immediately saw something low to the ground, possibly silver in color, and move near him like a streak. Marge and Mike both kept feeling like something kept patting them on the head in this hallway. The ghost box suddenly shut off for no apparent reason.

The attic provided some noises but not the footsteps we had kept hearing last time we were there. The PRIOM group was up there before we were and they had a lot of activity. Marge saw a shadow moving in a corner several times.

All in all it was relatively quiet this time, at least for me. Spirits don’t perform on command. This is still one of my favorite buildings and it will sadden me if the village takes control of it and tears it down.


Katherine Meagher:  This is a magnificent building. This is what I like the most, just being in the present with history.  We had three groups that participated in this investigation. There was a lot of contamination in the building. My recorder was picking up other groups and a lot of the outside noise such as traffic. The hallways and rooms echoed so badly; it was hard to get any EVPs at all. I still believe smaller groups would be better in these conditions and a larger effort of being mindful of others, me included. I did pick up a lot of whispers but had a hard time hearing them with all the noise. I still had a great time with my group. I am always looking forward to the next investigation.


Michael Wright: We did several EVP sessions in the asylum going from the basement to the attic.

In the basement session 5 minutes after setting up the Ovilus said "How are you" without pausing, which does not happen too often.

On the 3rd floor we did a session right by the stairway while setting up Dale notice a silvery flash go within close proximately of where we standing.
5 minutes into the session Marge and I felt something touch our heads, shortly after that the Ovilus was making very strange hissing and clicking noises and said Ghost Chance Counter.
A few minutes later something came down onto my jacket when I looked around and did not notice any debris near where I was sitting.

The attic had some strange noises after looking around the sounds were debunked as plastic on the windows and birds on the roof.

There was not a lot of activity on that night but is still was a very enjoyable investigation.
Bartonville is beautiful stone structure and one of my favorite places to go; I hope it is around for many more years to come.

Marge Sucha: We arrive for the investigation at Midnight.  The temperature was lower 70's daytime & 50's at night.  We did have some rain during the investigation.  

Basement, this was our groups second time at Bartonville. The first time we were here we didn't have time to investigate the basement so we thought this would be a good place to start.

We went in the room that had an embalming table in it.

The Ovilus was very talkative but I could not make out what was being said. 

I also had a camera set up outside the room.   I did not catch any evidence on the camera.  

Third Floor, Dale had seen a silver streak move across the floor on the 3rd floor so we decided this would be a good place to do our next EVP session.    I was wearing a hat and at one point I felt something touching my head.  It felt like someone was trying to pull my hat off.   

We also had some interesting words come out of the Ovilus.  It kept saying the word "wait” & "wait please. It in between there were words we could not make out.  It reminded me of someone sounding out words when reading something. 

We also picked up    “Can you… milk"   Maybe someone was asking for milk. 

Kathie noticed Dale's camera was off and while was checking his camera the Ovilus said "ghost, chance, counter"    

Attic, after the third floor we decided to investigate the attic.  When we first went up there we had the Ovilus on.  The Ovilus was very chatty but again I could not understand what it was saying.  I kept seeing a shadow in one of the corners.   The corner would get real black and then it seemed to get a little lighter.  This happened several times while we were up there.   

Chapel Room in the Basement, The basement was very cold.  One of the first things I did was take a picture.  The picture was all black.  My lens cap was off and I did have the flash on.  Shortly after I saw a black mass next to me.  Looked like part of a leg. 

Again the Ovilus was chatty.  Some of the responses.  "You get her here",  "ask Dr.", "suicide", "therapy", "hurt you"   "F you up", and when we left "Good Bye"

We noticed a drop in temperature.  When we started in the basement the temperature was 57 degrees then dropped to 50.

Dale Kaczmarek: Just before starting our EVP session on the 3rd floor, I again noticed what appeared to be a quick silvery flash or streak of light low to the floor quickly slide down the hall and disappear. This was very similar to what I had encountered the last time we investigated this location and this same floor. I have no idea what it was.

A little later while conducting another EVP session in the attic, I and several other members of the group did hear some bumps and noises at the far end of the attic, sometimes in response to some questions that were asked. However they were so far away, that none of them actually appeared on any of our digital recordings made during that time.

Evidence collected:

Attic noise again Bartonville.MPG – another noise was picked up during our EVP session while we were in the attic.

Attic noise Bartonville.MPG – a noise was picked up during our EVP session while we were in the attic.

Basement chapel goodbye Bartonville.MPG – during an Ovilus X session in the Chapel located in the basement, a comment was made, “Good bye” to which the Ovilus replied, “Good bye!”

Female scream Bartonville.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the chapel located in the basement, a faint female scream was heard and recorded in the distance.

Female sound Bartonville.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the attic, a female sound was recorded in the background.

Loud noise Bartonville.MPG – the static IR camcorder on the 2nd floor picked up a loud sound very close to the unit with nobody around.

Orb Bartonville.MPG – a very bright orb was recorded on a static camcorder on the 3rd floor very close to the location where just a few minutes earlier I had visually seen a silvery streak of light with the naked eye.

Phillip Bartonville.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session on the 3rd floor, a question was asked, “There’s another device now, can you tell us your name?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Phillip.”

RN Bartonville.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session in the autopsy room in the basement, a question was asked, “Can you tell us your name?” The Ovilus responds with, “RN.”

Running feet Bartonville.MPG – the static IR camcorder on the 2nd floor picks up what sounds like barefooted running feet in the hallway.

Scream Bartonville.MPG – during our initial walkthrough, the handheld camcorder picks up what sounds like a scream.

Strange hum Bartonville.MPG – during our initial walkthrough, the handheld camcorder picks up a strange hum in the background.

Strange sound running feet Bartonville.MPG – the static IR camcorder positioned on the 2nd floor first picks up a strange sound followed again by the sound of barefoot running feet in the hallway.

Conclusions: While there wasn’t as much interaction between us and the many spirits at Bartonville this time, I believe that we did capture a lot of residual sounds and events both during our walk through, on static camcorders and during multiple EVP sessions. This doesn’t suggest that the place isn’t still haunted by many intelligent, interactive entities; it just suggests that perhaps they weren’t willing to communicate with us during our most recent visit.

I sincerely hope this building will be around for many, many more years to come so that a good number of other people and researchers can have the opportunity to interact with the many ghosts at Bartonville.

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