Manteno State Hospital



Over 40 years ago, in 1927, the first 1000 acres of farmland that would later become the 1200 acre Manteno State Hospital were purchased by the state of Illinois.

Two years later, on Nov. 21 1929, the formal dedication ceremony took place with the laying of the Administration Building’s cornerstone. Purpose of acquisition, as stated in the dedication, was to bring into being the tenth such hospital to be “dedicated by the State of Illinois to the welfare of its people for their relief and restoration, a place of hope for the healing of the mind and body where many may find health and happiness again.”

Manteno State Hospital Sign

The institution’s campus, on which the hospital wards and other buildings were built, is located two miles east and a mile south of the village of Manteno and totals 389 acres.

An additional 200 acres, bringing total hospital acreage to 1200 were purchased in 1936. At that time, all except 40 plus acres of buildings on the hospital’s four farms was farmed by hospital employees, assisted by patients. They grew grain foods and raised cattle and pigs. These provided much of the meat used by the hospital’s patients and employees. This type of work is no longer considered therapy and farming for patients was abandoned some years ago.

All except four farm buildings were torn down early in 1968 because they were no longer needed and were economically unrepairable. Farm acreage is now leased for over $35,000 a year to area farmers who raise corn and soybeans on it.

Partial view of the institution campus from the tower of the power plant
looking toward the administration building in center background.

The hospital is almost a city in itself. having its own administrative officials, system of roads, restaurants, police (security forces), fire department and a utilities system sufficient to run a moderately sized city.

The first patients were received Dec. 27, 1930 when 100 men were transferred from Kankakee State Hospital.

About 10,534 meals are served daily at an average cost of 35 cents for food and 30 cents for labor, or a total cost of 65 cents per meal. Average food costs for the 12-month period ending in June 1972 was $1,312,945 and labor cost $1,114,757.

Caring for the approximately 2,622 patients and for the buildings and grounds, and providing necessary supervision and administration, is an average of 1,993 employees as of September 1972. Of these, 977 are in direct patient care. Total estimated cost per patient per day for the year ending in June, 1972, excluding cost of maintenance of buildings and grounds, was $17.24.

Following are some facts about the hospital’s physical facilities:
Manteno State’s heating and power plant generates super-heated steam which runs turbines that take care of a peak daytime electrical load of 2550 to 2600 kilowatts, This turbine exhaust steam is sent in a closed system throughout the hospital grounds. It heats buildings by means of radiators and cooks much of the food in the hospitals kitchens. This food is sent to patient dining rooms at the wards.

By means of heat exchangers, this steam also provides hot water for the buildings, including the kitchen and central laundry, and during summer provides for air conditioning systems operating on the principle of those in Servel refrigerators. Upon return to the heating plant the cooler steam is reheated and continues an endless cycle. About 150 tons of coal are required on hot summer days, up to 225 tons on winter’s coldest days. (The heating and power plant was demolished in December 2002.)

Manteno State Hospital Laundry Facilities 1966

The hospital’s laundry processes about 117 tons weekly in warm months. During cold months this drops to 114 tons. Its new laundry, which started operating in October of 1966, is believed to be the world’s largest and can process 10,000 pounds per hour. No other laundry can process over 7,000 pounds hourly, State laundry officials say. (This building is still in operation today by the company “Sodexho, Linen.”)

Water purchased from the Kankakee Water Company, which takes it from the Kankakee River, is re-chlorinated before distribution. Average daily consumption is 1-1/2 million gallons. A new three million gallon reservoir, which went into operation several years ago, provides sufficient storage capacity so that there is enough water for several days if the pipe from Kankakee were to break. Long before that time the break would be repaired.

The hospital’s sewage treatment plant handles a normal load of one million gallons daily. After treatment of the wastes, which are used as fertilizer on the hospital’s lawns and offered without charge to farmers, the remaining water is highly chlorinated and passes back into nearby Rock Creek’s south fork. Recent plant improvements make the effluent purer than the creek water into which it is discharged. The plant’s wastes treatment exceeds national standards, the hospital’s sanitary engineer reports.

*Information copied from a paper on file in the Manteno Public Library. Date unknown, but assumptions could be made that it was around 1972-73.

**Photograph photocopied from a paper on file in the Manteno Public Library that’s caption reads 1928, despite the information in the history text.


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