Illinois Western Hospital for the Insane, Watertown, Illinois

The Illinois Western Hospital for the Insane was established by an act of the Legislature approved May 22, 1895, by which act the usual board of three trustees was created and $100,000 appropriated for the construction, furnishing and maintenance.

After considering various propositions, the trustees finally selected a site near the village of Watertown, in Rock Island County,. on an elevation about a quarter of a mile from the Mississippi River and five miles above Moline.

The corner stone was laid September 5, 1896, Governor Altgeld delivering the dedicatory address. Owing to the unfavorable weather, the insolvency of the contractors, and an inadequate 'appropriation, the work proceeded slowly and when, on March 18, 1897, the new trustees were appointed, they found the 'buildings incomplete. With additional appropriations granted by the Legislature, they were enabled to resume operations and on May 16, 1898, the front wards were ready for occupancy and three hundred and thirty-six patients were received from the Jacksonville Hospital. In the Spring of 1899 other wards were completed and additional patients received from Jacksonville, Elgin and Dunning. Since that time there has been constructed the Annex, male and female infirmaries, parole ward, tubercular cottages, a chapel, a large amusement hall, carpenter shop, male and female dormitories for employees and dormitory on the farm for patients. A fair ground of twelve acres has been enclosed and the necessary buildings erected to carry on an annual fair. A pathological and hydratic building and industrial hall are now in process of construction. The population of the hospital is now 1,500.

The hospital grounds consist of five hundred and sixty acres, one hundred acres of which are on the hills immediately surrounding the institution, providing a healthy location free from all malaria and affording a magnificent outlook upon the Mississippi Valley. The farm and garden are in the bottoms to the south and east of the institution, the farm buildings being about a half mile from the institution proper. Access to the hospital is furnished by a switch from the Chicago. Burlington and Quincy, which follows the south line of the farm, the switch running to the top of the hill.

Fireproof construction has been adopted in all of the large buildings which are constructed of brick or stone.

In their primitive condition, the grounds surrounding the buildings were very irregular and the soil was of such a character that each rain caused considerable damage. These natural difficulties have in a large measure been overcome and the institution is now well provided with concrete walks, macadam roads and considerable has been done towards beautifying the grounds. This has only been accomplished, however, by moving at least 50,000 cubic yards of earth, filling up many deep ravines, and by the exercise of constant vigilance to prevent washing by rain.

Although within easy distance of the Mississippi River, the institution has its own wells from which it draws an abundant supply of pure water. A sewage plant has been constructed into which enters the sewage from the entire institution. In this sewage box all solid matter is destroyed by a natural process and nothing passes out except a stream of clear odorless water which finds its way to the river.

The institution is well equipped and could carry on its existence in a large measure independent of the outside world, having its own electric light and steam plant, in addition to the water supply and sewage system, its own carpenter shop, machine shop, store building, laundry and refrigerating plant, printing office, tin shop and garment factory. Electricity is used entirely for light and power and the buildings are heated with the exhaust steam.

The site, valued at $40,000, was paid for by the citizens of Rock Island County, one-half in subscriptions and one-half by the sale of County bonds. Though somewhat in-accessible, the fact that the institution has never had a case of malarial or typhoid fever, more than compensates.

The board of trustees are F. W. Gould, president, Moline, Illinois; Allan M. Clement, Chicago, Illinois; and William Trembor, Free-port, Illinois. Doctor W. E. Taylor, of Monmouth, was elected superintendent in January, 1897, and has continued in charge of the institution since that time.

 

Early Settlements of Rock Island County 

 

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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