This sketch of the original hospital was published in 1876 in the Atlas of the State of Illinois. Photo provided.

Zoom presentation to feature history of Choate Center

Darrel Dexter, of Jonesboro, plans to give a presentation titled “153 Years of History:  From the Southern Illinois Insane Asylum to the Clyde L. Choate Mental Health and Development Center,” on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 11 a.m. on Zoom. Dexter is a local historian and author. 

Due to COVID restrictions, there will be no in-person attendance.  

Registration for the event is free and open to all who are interested.  

Registration can be done online at  

The state institution was created in 1869 and received its first patients in December 1873.  

It was first known as the Southern Illinois Insane Asylum and then as the Illinois Southern Hospital for the Insane.  

It also has been called the Southern Illinois Mental Health Center, the Anna Mental Health and Developmental Center, Anna State Hospital and the Clyde L. Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center.   

Dexter will focus on the history of the institution from its founding and the controversy over its location at Anna, instead of at Jonesboro, where the chairman of the first board of commissioners, John Dougherty, wanted it located.

The hospital expanded physically and continued to grow in numbers until it reached its peak of nearly 2,500 residents in 1953, and its subsequent decline in numbers in more recent years to just a little more than 200.

Dexter will also discuss the Anna State Hospital Cemetery, once known as Valhalla, which was established in 1874.  There were 2,673 unmarked graves there up to November 1939, and about 1,200 marked burials since that date.

The presentation will feature more than 60 photographs and drawings from 1876 to 2022. 


The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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