Out of the dozens of reasons I decided to make this film, the Bowen building is one of them. The City of Bartonville has fought owner, Richard Weiss, from saving the building for years. Abandoned, there it has sat decaying for over 40 years; numerous individuals interested in restoring and falling financially short of their dreams. Richard Weiss has that same dream and shares that same problem. Despite his shortcomings in his lone battle against the town, his vision and love for this exquisite building lives on strong. And he has found that those who share that same love support him in his efforts. Constructed of magnificent limestone, the Bowen was a beauty built to last. Opening in 1902, it has been used for an array of services from administration and the nurses’ dormitory to housing criminally insane women and the morgue in the basement.
The opening of the Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane was intended to stay open for lifetimes to come. The jobs it provided sustained the community and brought in recognition and respect. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, communities desired the opening of mental institutions. Postcards for the town would advertise their pride in their institution. In this like, Bartonville displayed the Bowen building on the city’s emblems and attended the asylum’s public events. The history’s discrepancy tells of a moving and tragic story of a lifetime that has passed.