Chester State Hospital

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Chester State Hospital
Construction Began 1889
Opened 1891
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Chester, IL
Alternate Names
  • Chester Asylum for Insane Criminals
  • Chester State Hospital for Insane Criminal
  • Illinois Security Hospital at Menard
  • Illinois General Hospital for the Insane
  • Chester Mental Health Center


In 1895 the General Assembly provided for the establishment of the Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane. A three-member commission, appointed by the Governor, was instructed to select a suitable site, initiate construction plans, and operate the institution, subject to inspection by the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities. Although a site in Peoria was chosen and construction undertaken in 1895, the institution did not open until February 10, 1902. Patients who were characterized as incurably insane were to be transferred to the institution from other state hospitals and from county almshouses. From 1907 to 1909 the term "incurable" was dropped and the hospital was designated the Illinois General Hospital for the Insane. The board of commissioners and the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities were abolished in 1909 when control of all state charitable institutions passed to the newly created Board of Administration. The same act changed the institution's name to Peoria State Hospital. The hospital opened a training school for nurses in 1906 and participated in a departmental affiliation program for psychiatric nursing from 1943 to 1969. The Psychiatric Nursing Affiliation Program provided instruction in psychiatric nursing to students from general hospital nursing schools.

The Department of Public Welfare assumed responsibility for the hospital from 1917 until 1961 when the Department of Mental Health was created. In 1976 new buildings were constructed 1 mile away to replace the aging facility. Many are placed in Chester because they are unfit to stand trial or have been deemed not guilty for various violent crimes by reason of insanity.


Main Image Gallery: Chester State Hospital