22645 E County Road 1050 North
Ashmore, IL 61912
This historic building was built in 1916 and was once part of Coles County Poor Farm. It operated as an almshouse until 1959 where the residents or “inmates” grew their own food, butchered and smoked their own meat, made their own butter and all worked hard to take care of each other. As many as 200 people died while the building operated as a poorhouse and were buried on site.
In 1959, Cole’s County kept the farm land but sold the building to Ashmore Estates, Inc., who converted it into a private psychiatric facility. After only 5 years of operation, the facility closed in October of 1964 the due to a massive amount of debt. It re-opened as a public facility in 1965 and began accepting patients from other state mental institutions. Paul Swinford purchased the property in 1976, envisioning a brand new one story hospital but the idea was soon shut down by the state. Instead, he decided to remodel the building and add to the original structure, trying to convert it into a great hospital. Eventually he was forced to close the hospital in 1986 due to great financial loss exceeding 1.5 million dollars.
The building stood empty for 3 years before Paul Swinford commissioned it out to be made into a mental facility for teenage boys. The county shut the facility down, this time because they considered it a fire hazard. Sure enough, on Halloween of 1995 the outer building caught fire and was burned to the ground. The property was purchased by Arthur Colclasure in 1998 who planned on making the home his residence. Vandalism ruined his dream however and he never renovated the property. In 2006 the building was bought by Scott Kelley and it took 7 weeks just to clean up because it was such a mess. To discourage trespassers, Kelley put up signs and moved onto the property. They currently offer flashlight tours help to finance the renovations. Since it’s grand opening on Oct 13, 2006, the house now opens each year as a haunted house during the Halloween season. Today, the house is still owned by the Kelley’s and still offers flashlight tours during the off season.
There is a vast amount of folklore about Ashmore Estates, evidenced by the large number of people who illegally entered the property looking for ghosts and spirits during the 20 years in which the property was abandoned. Some believe that cults used to meet at this location for satanic rituals. There are reports of black masses, full body apparitions, disembodied voices, hot and cold spots, you name it. The old building is considered by many to be “massively haunted” and there are rumors that an investigation of the building will be aired on Ghost Adventures later this year. Many insist that they have encountered the spirit of young girl named Elva Skinner who is believed to have died in a fire at the original Coles County Poor Farm. No matter who the spirits are, most witnesses agree that the place is haunted. So if you are looking for a thrill or haunted adventure in a place which encourages visitors, you may want to check out the Ashmore Estates.
For more information on investigating this location click here. It is open and available for flash light tours or even overnight for investigations for a fee. There is also a seasonal haunted house on the property which might be fun to check out – who knows, you may run into a real ghost on your adventure.
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