My article, “From Poor House to Haunted House: The Coles County Poor Farm,” was recently featured in the August 2011 issue of Historic Illinois, a publication of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. It is a shortened version of a paper I read at the 2010 Conference on Illinois History in Springfield, and it chronicles the history of the poor farm from 1870 to the present day.
Although Ashmore Estates gained notoriety during the time it was a psychiatric facility and later abandoned, for most of its history it was known as the almshouse on the Coles County Poor Farm. The Coles County Poor Farm sat on the same property outside of Ashmore, Illinois for 89 years, between 1870 and 1959. The current building, as it stands today, was built in 1916.
At any given time, the building was home to between 30 and 40 “inmates,” many of whom, because of the age at which they came to the farm, died there. It is estimated that over 100 inmates died on the farm in its 89 year history. On September 23rd, Ashmore Estates will be featured on the season premier of Ghost Adventures, the Travel Channel’s top-rated program.