On behalf of all the teams involved in the Save Ashmore Estates benefit held March 2, 2013, we would like to thank everyone who made donations and / or attended the benefit. With the support of each of you, we had a successful event. The work is not over yet, and we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of repairing the roof at Ashmore Estates. If you still would like to help but are not sure what you can do, please email MIGS by clicking here.
The MIGS team
History of Ashmore Estates
Coles County Poor Farm
1870 - Feb 1959
Prior to the construction of the present building, there was a previous building on the property, also used to house inmates on the county farm. According to the History of Coles County, written in 1879, the original farm was described as follows: “The county owns some two hundred and fifty-eight acres of land, about two hundred acres of which is plow and grass land; the remainder is principally timber-land. On the farm is a brick building 38x58 feet, two stories high, and a kitchen attached to the main building, extending some 28 feet in length and 16 in width, with a large porch facing the east. There is also a very comfortable dwelling for the Superintendent and his family and a large barn, with some smaller buildings. There is an orchard of about one hundred and fifty bearing trees, consisting of apples, peaches and cherries.”
Because of poor living conditions, they country decided to construct a new building. An article published in the Decatur Review describes the farm and home as follows: “The home itself is a very beautiful structure, being made of red faced brick with a red tile roof, and is of the Gothic type of architecture. It was erected in 1916. the building is of two stories, and there are sixteen rooms on each floor. It is divided into two sections, eight rooms on either floor, including bath and toilet, belonging to the men’s department, while the other section is for women. There is also a large living room on the lower floor of each section. In the basement is found the separate dining rooms for the men and women, with a large, well-equipped kitchen. The laundry room, storage room for canned fruits and vegetables, furnace and fuel room also are in the basement. The furnace room is equipped with Kewanee boilers, two high pressure tanks, and automatic electric pump.”
The need for county farms for caring for the needy fazed out with the introduction of the more modern form of welfare and public aid. The county closed the doors of the Coles County Poor Farm in February 1959.
Ashmore Estates, Inc.
Psychiatric Hospital for the mentally ill
In August 1961, the facility was opened to furnish “care and treatment for up to 25 on-patients”. Therapy was also offered for out-patients. The corporation leased the building from the county for five years, with the option to purchase the property at the expiration of the lease. The facility was in operation for about eight years, with owners listed as Charles Boyer and John Ed Carpenter.
Home for the Developmentally Disabled
On March 1, 1977, the property was purchased by Galen A. Martinie and Paul Swinford. Construction of an addition on the west end of the building was started shortly thereafter. The building was used as a home for the developmentally disabled, closing it’s doors in April of 1987.
In 1995, ownership of the abandoned building was transferred to Arthur Colclasure of Sullivan, Illinois, purchasing the property from the county for delinquent taxes. Colclasure intended on fixing up the building and making it his home, however the vandals made this task nearly impossible. In 2006, Scott and Tanya Kelley purchased the building for the purpose of running a haunted house in the Halloween season. In addition to the seasonal event, they offer paranormal investigations and flash light tours year round. The building has been featured on several paranormal themed programs, to include “Children of the Grave 2” by the Booth brothers; Ghost Adventures on the Travel channel; and Ghost Hunters on the SyFy channel, just to name a few. Paranormal teams from all across the country have investigated the building and have reported a great deal of paranormal activity in the building.
In April of 2013, the building was auctioned at a public auction. The winning bidders plan to continue using the building as a seasonal Halloween haunted attraction. They also will continue with paranormal tours, investigations and events.