Batavia, Illinois: Mary Todd Lincoln's Sanitarium Bed

Ten years after President Lincoln's assassination, Mary Lincoln was committed to "a sanitarium for disturbed ladies" in Batavia by her son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Relics from her stay are on display in Batavia's Depot Museum, including her bed and the logbook in which her doctor recorded her behavior. Mary was released after only four months, against her doctor's wishes. The actual Bellevue Place sanitarium still stands elsewhere in town, converted to apartments.

Batavia Depot Museum

155 Houston St., Batavia, IL
Batavia Depot Museum. From the corner of Hwy 31/Lincoln Hwy and W. Wilson St., drive north one block to Houston St. Turn right (east) onto Houston St. Drive one block. The museum is on the northeast corner of Houston and Water Sts.
Mar.-Nov. M, W, F-Su 2-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Donation $1.
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Sanitarium bed of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Mary Todd Lincoln's Sanitarium Bed

In 1875, distressed over his mother's erratic behavior, Robert Todd Lincoln (the eldest and only surviving child of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln) arranged for a public trial that declared his mother to be insane. For four months Mrs. Lincoln stayed at the Bellevue Place sanitarium in Batavia. She was able to engineer her release, left Batavia, eventually returned to Springfield, Illinois, and was later officially declared of sound mind.

Bellevue Place was converted to apartments in the 1980s, but the bed that Mary Todd Lincoln slept in while at the sanitarium is on display at the Batavia Depot Museum. The docent told me that Mary Todd Lincoln wasn't particularly fond of Batavia after her forced stay in Bellevue Place.

The museum has other interesting exhibits; my favorites were a three-foot long metal milk truck and a shiny artillery shell.

[John Takao Collier, 08/18/2014]
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August 13, 2020

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