By Sylvia Shults
During the first half of the twentieth century, the Peoria State Hospital was the premiere mental health facility of its day. Dr. George Zeller instituted the eight-hour workday for his staff, removed patient restraints, and made the asylum into a model for the care of the mentally ill. Today, there are only a few buildings of the hospital left. Some of them are still in use, others are inhabited only by ghosts. Our guide to these ghosts — and the history they represent — is Sylvia Shults. In Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital, she brings a passion for paranormal investigation to her adventures at this haunted hotspot. The spirits come to life once more as Shults explores their former home. Other voices help her tell the story: this is a collection of people’s experiences at the Peoria State Hospital. Ghost hunting groups, sensitives, former nurses, and ordinary people share their stories with us, their voices resonating to create a panoramic view to rival the vista of the Illinois River. To visit the remaining buildings of the Peoria State Hospital today is to visit a small piece of history. A ghost story over a hundred years in the making, Fractured Spirits is narrative nonfiction at its finest.