On June 4, 2016 TIP investigators Lesley, Paul, and junior tipster Madi investigated the Pollak Hospital in Bartonsville, IL. The asylum was completed in 1902 under the direction of Dr. George Zeller who was truly a pioneer of the mental health institution of the day. He revolutionized the humane treatment of the sick and elderly. He also allowed women to serve in leading roles formerly reserved for men. It was opened up as Peoria State Hospital, as Peoria was the largest nearby city. In total there were thirty-three buildings to serve the community. Many patients worked there also and the institution functioned as its own city in some respects. We were particularly impressed to learn that the circus would visit the hospital and put on performances for the patients. Pollak Hospital was added to the complex in 1949 and was used to treat the many tuberculosis patients. The northern wing was for the female patients while the southern wing house the many male patients. Many people came down with this incurable disease and the many died at the hospital. Eventually Pollak was closed down in 1973, making it one of the few remaining buildings from this massive complex.
Unlike the Bowan Building nearby which is slated to be torn down the hospital building remains viable. We visited one of the four cemeteries near the building but were soon chased out by mosquitoes. We began our investigation listening to a very informative talk on the history of the whole complex and the hospital in particular. TIP investigators were very impressed by the history of the facility and how forward thinking Dr. Zeller had been. We then toured the facility which has been converted almost entirely to a haunted house for Halloween time—meaning lots of bloody zombies and body parts. One room was the “doll” room and was creepy just because of the dolls (pictures on Facebook). While we were in the basement during the tour we were leaving one room and heard a loud screech like a metal door closing. There was a metal door in the room we were leaving which led to another small room. We re-entered the room but could not detect if the door in the room had moved. We tested the door and it was unlikely to have moved on its own. We began our EVP sessions down in that basement room. During the session we heard a noise in the other room where we had been told the spirits like you to sing nursery rhymes to them. We soon found out that Madi and Lesley sing like angels but Paul not so much. When we ran out of nursery rhymes we switched to Adele to give the spirits a change of pace. The song “Hello” with the lyric “hello from the other side” seemed very appropriate for the circumstances. We moved upstairs again and performed EVP sessions in the various hospital rooms. A few areas are locked off as they are rented out. Something weird and non-paranormal always happens on our investigations. This time we had been warned they have a lot of trespassers so if someone showed up call the volunteers who were less than five minutes away. Well sure enough during our break a pick-up truck drives around the gates and backs up to the building. It turns out it was the youth football coach that stores equipment in part of the building and forgets they have ghost hunts. After this intermission we did ghost box sessions in the basement and the lecture room (as we called it). Both sessions were pretty uneventful except when leaving the lecture room we got two “goodbyes” when we said goodbye. After we packed up we drove down to the museum and met the volunteers again. We spent some time in the museum learning more about what had been an amazing facility in its time. As usual we have evidence to review and we will post the best on our website.