Haunted Places & Tours

Tinker’s Shadow – Sara Bowker Interview Highlights

Join psychic-medium Sara Bowker as she gives insight into Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens‘ otherworldly residents. Then head over to Amazon Video Direct to watch Tinker’s Shadow: The Hidden History of Tinker Swiss Cottage in HD!

It’s available in HD to rent for $2.99, buy for $9.99, or watch free with ads. Click on the Amazon button below to watch:

Tinker’s Shadow – Kathi Kresol Interview Highlights

Join Haunted Rockford proprietor Kathi Kresol as she explains how she brought haunted tours and events to Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens and why its history and hauntings generate such an interest in the local community. Then head over to Amazon Video Direct to watch Tinker’s Shadow: The Hidden History of Tinker Swiss Cottage in HD!

It’s available in HD to rent for $2.99, buy for $9.99, or watch free with ads. Click on the Amazon button below to watch:

Tinker’s Shadow – Samantha Hochmann Interview Highlights

Join Museum Education Director Samantha Hochmann as she explains why she loves working at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens and why its history and hauntings are so important to the local community. Then head over to Amazon Video Direct to watch Tinker’s Shadow: The Hidden History of Tinker Swiss Cottage in HD!

It’s available in HD to rent for $2.99, buy for $9.99, or watch free with ads. Click on the Amazon button below to watch:

Tinker’s Shadow – Steve Litteral Interview Highlights

Join Museum Executive Director Steve Litteral as he explains how he got involved with Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens and why its history and hauntings are so important to the local community. Then head over to Amazon Video Direct to watch Tinker’s Shadow: The Hidden History of Tinker Swiss Cottage in HD!

It’s available in HD to rent for $2.99, buy for $9.99, or watch free with ads. Click on the Amazon button below to watch:

Hartford Castle’s Once-Majestic Remains

“Hartford Castle” is the colloquial name for a mansion that formerly stood on a tract of land just outside Hartford, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Its original owner, a French immigrant named Benjamin Biszant, called it Lakeview. He built the imposing home for his bride, an Englishwoman whose name has apparently been lost to history.

Sparing no expense (which was certainly an impressive dollar amount in 1897), Biszant surrounded Lakeview with sprawling gardens, statuary, romantic gazebos, and, finally, a moat to keep out trespassers. According to Louie Haines, a neighbor who recalled helping to dig the moat with his father, the Frenchman stocked it with goldfish that interbred with local crappie, producing what he described as “unusual looking fish.”

Eventually, Biszant’s wife died and, perhaps, the pain was too much for him to remain at Lakeview. He sold the mansion and moved west. Several owners and tenants occupied the mansion until 1923 when a husband and wife from nearby Wood River purchased the property. They lived there until 1964, when the wife became a widow and decided to move to less lonely surroundings.

During that time, according to Bill Matheus of the Lewis & Clark Journal, local residents treated the property as if it were their own. Visitors frequently roamed the grounds and even invited themselves inside the mansion for tours! The mansion deteriorated during the late 1960s, and in 1971 and 1972 vandals ran wild.

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Ethereal Remains of Peoria State Hospital

Not much remains of central Illinois’ Peoria State Hospital, especially after the largest structure, called the Bowen Building, was controversially demolished in 2017. Its ruins are located west of Peoria in the small town of Bartonville, which lies directly across the Illinois River. Troy Taylor popularized this location via several books including Haunted Illinois (1999, 2004) and Haunted Decatur Revisited (2000), although it had long been an object of local curiosity.

Since then, an attempt was made to rehabilitate the Bowen Building and open it for tours. It appeared on the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters in 2013 and Destination America’s Ghost Asylum in 2016. This publicity was not enough to save the building from the wrecking ball.

According to Taylor, Peoria State Hospital (originally known as Bartonville State Hospital) began its life in 1885 as an empty shell and faux medieval castle. No patients were ever housed or treated in the building and it was torn down in 1897.

The institution was rebuilt and reopened in 1902 with a new name and a new superintendent. Now called Peoria State Hospital, a progressive physician named Dr. George A. Zeller took over the facility and instituted new, more humane treatments for mental illness. Small cottages were built to house the patients and a dorm housed the full- time staff. Essentially a self-contained community, the grounds also contained a store, a bakery, and a kitchen.

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A Visit to Haunted Milton Schoolhouse in Alton, Illinois

The Milton Schoolhouse in Alton, Illinois was constructed in 1904 and expanded in several stages until a gym and stage were finally added in 1937. The elementary school closed in the 1980s and became a glass factory. That too was abandoned and rumors of ghosts began to circulate about the old school, especially when it hosted a haunted attraction. Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters visited in 2010. Today, it is a business incubator home to a popular coffee shop. This winter, I toured the building with psychic-medium Chanda Crosby and interviewed her about her experience.