Alton State Hospital

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Alton State Hospital
Established 1912
Construction Began 1915
Opened 1916
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location East Alton, IL
Peak Patient Population 2,100 in 1955
Alternate Names
  • Alton Mental Health Center


In 1909 the General Assembly made provisions for the state to assume all responsibility for the care and treatment of the public insane. To meet the resulting need for more state-operated facilities the General Assembly appropriated funds in 1911 to the Board of Administration for the establishment of another state hospital for the insane. Although construction was not completed at the Alton site until July 1917, forty patients were transferred from Anna State Hospital in December 1916 and housed in temporary quarters until the formal opening of Alton State Hospital.

The Civil Administrative Code of 1917 abolished the Board of Administration and transferred control of Alton State Hospital to the newly created Department of Public Welfare. In 1921 Alton had 757 patients and 117 employees. Three years later Hydrotherapy was introduced and 5 new cottages and 2 new dining halls were completed. A training school for nurses was opened in 1921. In the 1930s a ward was opened for WW1 veterans another for civilian men, one for women and a TB building. Hydrotherapy was becoming a more common treatment at Alton with over 65,000 hours of treatment given in one year.

In the 1940s Electro-convulsive Therapy (ECT) was added and the patient population was 1,775 with a capacity of 1,084. By 1954 the use of new anti-psychotic medications was introduced. Discharge of patients increased by 20% and 39 patients received lobotomies that year. In the '60s Hydrotherapy was no longer used and an adolescent unit was opened. An alcohol treatment unit was opened in 1966 based on the one at Peoria. The Department of Mental Health assumed control of the hospital in 1961 and changed its name to Alton Mental Health Center in 1975. Alton Mental Health center is now primarily a forensic services provider with approximately 200 court-ordered patients. A new high security building was completed in 1997.

Images of Alton State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Alton State Hospital


The Alton State Hospital Cemetery was established in 1918. According to the Alton Evening Telegraph, July 31, 1918, twenty people had already been buried in the new cemetery. The land the cemetery is on was part of the old Kirkpatrick farm.