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Pollak Infirmary, Peoria State Hospital, Bartonville, Illinois  April 2014

Investigators CAPS members Dave, Trish and Vicki, and guest Dan

Weather was chilly


The building known as the Pollak infirmary was added to the Peoria State Hospital complex in 1949. It housed patients afflicted with Tuberculosis. The space was eventually occupied by the Asylum’s elderly female patients. Although its doors were shuttered in 1973, it is currently open for tours, both historical and paranormal.

Dave and I had the privilege of investigating the portion of the Asylum known as the Bowen building in November of 2012, and based on that experience we were eager for this one.

Many reports of paranormal activity have surfaced surrounding the State Hospital, and Pollak is no exception. One of the stories that we heard was about a mischievous entity that hangs out in the section of the building where the women were housed back in the day. She is lovingly referred to by the staff that runs the tours as “Dirty Girl”. Apparently she enjoys touching men, as some who has experienced it have relished in describing it as being “in an intimate nature”. Upon hearing this tale prior to the night of our scheduled investigation, I had told our Top Cat Dave, that we CAPS ladies will be leaving him alone in that section. A short time thereafter, whether by coincidence or design, Dave decided it would behoove us to have another male investigator to help cover more ground, so his friend Dan graciously volunteered to help.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the smiling faces of the Pollak tour staff who took us to our first destination, an adjoining cemetery which is the resting place of Bookbinder, an infamous former resident of the Peoria State Hospital. After a short surveillance of that area, we returned to the main building to view a captivating slideshow presentation about the historic hospital.

Next we were given a full excursion of the building. As we were standing in the Men’s death ward, I quickly turned to look behind me and thought I saw a flash of a man standing in the back of the room. I can describe the male as being around 6 feet tall with light brown copper toned hair. It was short on the sides but poufy on top, similar to a hairstyle that was favored in the 1950’s by actor James Dean. Perhaps it was a trick of the eye, but it is a memory that still lingers in my mind.

At the conclusion of the tour, the lights were turned off and most of the staff left. The two remaining staff graciously shut themselves in one of the rooms and nary was a peep heard from them throughout the whole night. We always appreciate when out hosts avoid “contamination” of our recordings.

The excitement for me this night was the introduction to a new piece of equipment. A trigger item called “Boo Buddy”. Boo is a stuffed bear with a built-in EMF detector and the capacity to ask three questions for an EVP session. As anxious as I was to see him, when I was reviewing my recordings, apparently someone else was just as eager to say “Hi” to Boo Buddy.

While we were setting up our video camera in the Men’s death ward, we all heard strange noises. Trish instantly had to change the batteries in her camera in spite of replacing them just prior to the investigation.

As we left that area to disseminate more video cameras around the building, I felt like we were being followed down the hallway. Just as Dan passed by one room, he stopped, and then took a step backwards declaring that he thought he saw a figure by the door that leads to the basement. At that point, we divided into teams of two. Dave and Dan wanted to go say “Hey” to Dirty Girl”.

Trish and I began our investigation in the basement, which was once used as a morgue. We heard a plethora of mysterious sounds. Most notably was a moment when Trish was near a door and behind her was a distinct sound of scratching. It was very loud, and certainly made her feel uneasy! Several times we heard something I can only liken to the sound of metal. We also heard a voice that sounded like singing or humming, a whistle and a child’s voice, but to top it all off, a loud growling sound.

Trish twice witnessed a flash of light coming from the adjoining basement area. She described it as a little square light. She also described what she thought was a foot walking through the doorway entering the space where she saw the light. As we entered that room to investigate, I saw a spark of light. Instantaneously I felt a peculiar sensation like the flesh on the top of my head was crawling. It was very disconcerting to say the least!

We then decided to investigate the upstairs to ascertain if it were indeed as active as the basement appeared to be. As we went up the stairs, Trish was certain she heard footsteps following us.

Our expedition led us into the Men’s death ward. As Trish and I were about to enter the room, I smelled a sudden whiff of perfume. It was brief, but quite fragrant. While Trish was laying on one of the beds, she heard heavy breathing next to her. Just after she mentioned it to me, I heard a loud creaking noise next to me on the couch.

A few minutes and several unexplained noises later, Dave and Dan walked in to ask us about a very loud squeaky door that they heard on the opposite side of the building. Dave also heard a loud audible sigh next to him while they were walking. They related to us that as much as they tried to interact with “Dirty Girl” throughout the night, she just didn’t seem to find them very enticing…just not her type. Perhaps the sound of that door moving as they were leaving the area was a message from her “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!”

When Trish and I went back to the staging room, we heard heavy footsteps in the hallway. To our amazement, as we peered through the doorway, there wasn’t a soul to be seen! After taking a short break, Trish and I decided to sit in separate rooms for more EVP sessions. Trish was in the area they call “Dorothy’s room”; she heard a lot of noises that seemed to emanate from her surroundings. I was in a room that had pews, reminded us of a chapel. At one time I heard a very loud noise that seemed to come from behind me. Although I did not jump at the time, I certainly did when I was listening back to the recording. I captured a loud, creepy male voice and I’m glad I did not hear that at the time!

The gentlemen had gone down to the basement, and while there Dave lost battery power in his camera. That is something we were warned that happens a lot in that particular area. We ended the investigation by gathering together with the spirit box, first on the main level, then in basement. We did have some interesting things come out of it such as the names Rachel and Robert.

While the men were gathering the equipment, Trish and I remained in the basement. We realized just how pitch black it was and at times we could not see each other. This was odd to us because we had not experienced that during our earlier escapade.

It was quite an evening at Pollak. Between the multitudes of loud unexplained sounds, disembodied voices, and glimpses of potential visual apparitions, we all agreed it was an excellent experience. I hope someday we are able to return to this site that was once filled with such hopefulness and heartbreak. The medical personnel of the past by all accounts were caring and compassionate about their patients. Those that presently oversee this historic building are the same, people hoping to preserve the past and keep the memories alive. For that we are most thankful to them.

Child, BreakroomCAPS
00:00 / 00:04

As Vicki first meets "Boo Buddy", we caught a child's voice appears to be saying, "Hi Boo Buddy!"

00:00 / 00:03

This was captured on one of our recorders that we left in the chapel/pew room.

Sigh, Dave HearsCAPS
00:00 / 00:15

Dave and Dan were walking through the Womens' ward and Dave heard an audible sigh captured on his recorder.

Robert, SpiritBoxCAPS
00:00 / 00:06

Caught these two names using our Spirit box.  First sounds like "April" and then "Robert"

00:00 / 00:05

Caught by the basement door, sounds like a child's voice... 

How You GirlsCAPS
00:00 / 00:11

This male voice was caught at the top of the stairs by the girls when the guys weren't around...  Sounds like "Why do you girls..."

Next TimeCAPS
00:00 / 00:05

Vicki alone in the chapel/pew room...  This one was pretty loud although I didn't hear anything when I was there...  Sounds like, something then "Next Time".

Have We MetCAPS
00:00 / 00:05

This was from David's recorder, at two seconds there is this very strange sound, then at four seconds is the husky male voice, "Have we Met?"

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