Elgin State Hospital

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Elgin State Hospital
Opened 1872
Current Status Active
Building Style Kirkbride Plan
Architect(s) Stephen Vaughn Shipman
Location Elgin, IL
Peak Patient Population 3,000 est.
Alternate Names
  • Northern Illinois Hospital for the Insane
  • Illinois Hospital for the Insane
  • South Elgin State Hospital
  • Elgin Mental Health Center


The original name of the Elgin Mental Health Facility (its current name) was The Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane. The door opened in 1872, however, construction of additional buildings continued until 1874.

A rumor circulated for year, and still exists that the State of Illinois approached the City of Elgin with plans to construct a mental institution and a college and offered Elgin one or the other. As the rumor goes, Elgin took the mental institution, De Kalb took Northern Illinois University. As Elgin Historian and celebrated Elgin History author, Bill Briska points out the rumor, "...is totally false" He goes on to state that, "The state hospital was founded in 1869 and the college in 1892. (there are ) No connection between the events".

The man-made lake was added in 1886. It was 400 by 500 feet in area and was designed to create a tranquil atmosphere for the patients and employees, as well as provide extra water for fire protection.

The annex to the Kirkbride built in 1891 and was designed to increase the hospital's capacity by some 300 patients. Within a short time, it would become the home of over 1,000 additional patients. It was closed in 1960 and razed in 1972 with the Kirkbride being torn down in 1994. Today only a handful of the older buildings have survived, mostly the "E" shaped cottages built in the 1930s.

Images of Elgin State Hospital

Main Image Gallery: Elgin State Hospital


The History of Elgin Mental Health Center: Evolution of a State Hospital, by William Briska


Human radiation experiments