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Dark Destinations > Locations - W > Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Other destinations within a
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Filed Under: Halloween Events > Haunted Houses/Hayrides
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Paranormal Hot Spots > Haunted Hospitals
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Added By: TheCabinet
Added On: June 03, 2007 - 07:07 PM UTC
Last Modified: July 10, 2007 - 09:48 PM UTC
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Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
When a major outbreak of tuberculosis hit Jefferson County, Kentucky in the early 20th century, nearby Louisville had the highest mortality rate in the country.  The state legislature quickly approved the funds to build a facility to house those that were inflicted to keep them isolated from the general public and provide care and medical attention.  A location named Waverly Hills was chosen and construction was quickly underway.  The Sanatorium was first opened as a two-story building with a capacity of 40 patients in 1910.  It quickly became apparent that the outbreak was much bigger than the small facility could handle and a series of expansions and reconstruction began.  By August 1926, the Sanatorium had a capacity of 435 beds and was one of the most advanced facilities of its kind.

Fighting Tuberculosis
During its early days, in addition the providing care for the inflicted, the facility was also used in hopes of finding a cure for the disease.  It was believed early on that exposure to sunlight and the clean air of the countryside, combined with bed rest aided in the fight against the disease.  As such, the patients were typically wheeled out in their beds on to the porches (or roof) of the facility, where they spent the majority of the day.  The practice continued even when winter would descend upon the facility and the patients would be exposed to the cold winter air and snow.  Sunlamps were also employed and sometimes placed at the foot of the bed and blasting the patients with ultraviolet light.  In addition, the patients were filled with a diet of fresh meat, fruits and vegetables and dairy products to build up the protein in their system to help stave off the disease.

Surgery also came into play.  Balloons were sometimes inserted into the lungs of the patients in an attempt to expand them more.  On the other side of the coin, patients's lungs were partly collapsed in a procedure called artificial pneumothorax in order to give portions of the lung a chance to heal and close off holes the disease may have caused.  Another surgery removed several ribs and muscles from the patient with hopes that it would give the lungs more chance to expand.  Because of the complexity and danger of the procedure, this would usually require multiple surgeries and result in as many as seven rib bones being removed.  Finally, lobectomy would be performed as a last ditch effort, which would remove diseased portions of the lung.  While there was some success, the last two procedures had a high mortality rate.

High morale was also a tool the staff of Waverly Hills employed.  Patients were given a form of occupational therapy where they were taught how to make baskets, brooms, tablecloths, sheets, and much more.  The resulting items would then be sold at the Kentucky State Fair and the money went back into funding the day to day routine of the Sanatorium.  Patients were also given stations with headphones so that they could listen to the radio of the day and get their minds off their infliction and the sadness around them.

Woodhaven Medical Services
By 1943, antibiotics were introduced that could cure tuberculosis and the facility soon saw its number of patients drop.  By 1961, Waverly Hills was no longer needed and was closed down and renovated to reopen as the geriatrics center, Woodhaven Medical Services in 1962.  Plagued by stories of patient abuse and neglect, the state stepped in and permanently shut the doors of the facility in 1980.

The Ghosts of Waverly Hills
Despite the best efforts of the staff of Waverly Hills, many of whom would actually contract the disease and die themselves, there were many casualties in the Sanatorium.  The papers have long since been destroyed, so the final numbers may never be known, but some estimates put the number somewhere in the tens of thousands.  It is no surprise then that there are a variety of different accounts that some of the patients and/or staff of Waverly Hills never left and are still there to this day.

The Body Chute
One of the more famous sections of the Sanatorium is the so-called Death Tunnel or Body Chute.  The 500-foot tunnel originally extended from the hospital to the bottom of the hill where it met up with railroad tracks.  It was originally used as a steam tunnel with the boiler at the bottom of the hill and the steam would travel up the pipes to provide heat throughout the hospital.  The staff would also use the tunnel to come and go from work and supplies were brought in by train and transported up the tunnel.  It consists of stairs on one side and a smooth slab on the other, which used to hold tracks that a gurney would sit on and be pulled up by winch.

When deaths became a common daily occurrence at Waverly Hills, the staff decided to use the tunnel to transport the bodies from the facility, shielding the other patients from seeing the bodies.  The idea was to keep morale high and seeing daily reminders of the cost of their illness was taking its toll.  The bodies were wheeled down the chute, sometimes passing employees on their way in, to the bottom of the hill where hearses would come and pick them up.  Paranormal activity has been reported in this tunnel and consists of apparitions, voices, a sense of dread, and strange lights.

Room 502
This is one of the more notorious areas of the Sanatorium.  There have been reported sightings of a nurse in full uniform, overwhelming since of despair, hostile voices and/or acts, and all sorts of strange activity.  There also two different stories attached to this room.  One has a nurse jumping to her death from the window of the room, while another has a different nurse hanging herself in the room in 1928 after becoming pregnant out of wedlock.  While the legend persists, there is evidence to suggest that the latter story actually took place elsewhere.  There is documentation that exists that has two nurses dying in the facility, but neither list suicide as the cause of death.  However, this may be out of consideration for the victims and reputation of Waverly Hills, as was common at the time.

Other Areas
An old woman has been reportedly seen around the main entrance of the Sanatorium.  She is reportedly bonded with chains and covered in blood and has been known to run from the entrance and cry for help before disappearing.  The roof was a treatment ground for children, to expose them to sunlight and allow them to play outdoors.  Voices of long-ago children are allegedly heard on occasion up there, as well as reports of dark shadows moving about the roof.  The third floor has been the focus of reports of ghostly activity by a young girl (named Mary) or boy.  A ball has been seen by some bouncing down the hall, while others outside the facility report seeing the ghost of the child peering out of the windows on the third floor.  The fourth floor is also listed as one of the major paranormal hotspots of the hospital.  Shadow figures have been reported and doors opening and closing on their own are a fairly common occurrence.

TV and Movie Exposure
Waverly Hills Sanatorium is becoming one of the better-known haunted locations in the United States.  Its reputation has attracted interest from entertainment outlets as well and has been featured on such shows as Scariest Places on Earth, Celebrity Paranormal Project, Ghost Hunters, and the new Internet show, Terror Normal.  It was also featured in the documentaries Haunted and Spooked.  The latter was filmed by the producers of the horror film, Death Tunnel, which was also shot at Waverly Hills and incorporated some of its story into the film.

Tours, Stays, Halloween and Future Plans
Today the Waverly Hills Historical Society, Inc. offer tours of the facility, overnight stays and a special Halloween fundraiser event.  The tours offered include a Historical Guided Tour during the day and Paranormal Guided Tours at night.  Separately from the tours, the Society is also now offering four-hour or eight-hour "stays" inside the walls of Waverly Hills Sanatorium for those interested in doing paranormal investigations of the facility.  The stays begin at midnight and consist of groups that spend some time on each floor, with posted guards to provide assistance and answer questions.  Around Halloween, the facility is transformed into a haunted hospital attraction.  The first floor of the Sanatorium is painted up as a haunted house attraction, complete with animatronic skeletons, demons and ghosts.

All the proceeds from these events are being put back into renovating the hospital, which is already evident today.  Windows are being replaced and the interior is slowly being refurbished.  The current plans are to open the first floor of the facility as a museum, the roof as a restaurant, and the remaining patient floors and rooms as a bed and breakfast.  If you are interested in any of these activities, please visit the first site below for more information.

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium does not have a physical mailing address at this time.  The entrance is off the main drive into the Bobby Nichols Golf Course at 4301 East Pages Lane.  If you are using mapping software to get there, map to that address and then take the road to the left after entering the drive.  The facility is gated off, so you will need to make an appointment to one of the above tours to enter its grounds.
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User Trips
Visiting Waverly Hills Sanatorium - From: TheCabinet (08/15/07, 09:36 PM UTC)
Due to my rushed tour of the South, I was unable to make it for one of Waverly's overnight stays, so had to opt for their daytime "historical tour" ...More
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Related Sites
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The official site of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium and the Waverly Hills Historical Society. The facility is one of the most recognized haunted facilities in the United States and the Society offers tours and overnight stays.
Prairie Ghosts: Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Prairie Ghosts' entry on the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, one of the most recognized haunted facilities in the United States.
Wikipedia: Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Wikipedia's entry on the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, one of the most recognized haunted facilities in the United States.
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Available from
Spooked The Ghosts Of Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Ghost Hunters: Live From The Waverly Sanitorium
Ghost Hunters: Season 2, Part 2
So, There I Was...
Death Tunnel
Ghost Hunters of the South
Waverly Hills Sanatorium Audio Experience
SPOOKED The Ghosts Of Waverly Hills Sanatorium Original Soundtrack
Fear: A Ghost Hunter's Story
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Waverly Hills Sanitorium
Zoomed in on the famous side of Waverly Hills - actually the back of the building in June 2007.
From: TheCabinet
The Bottom Entrance to the Body Chute
Looking at the bottom entrance of the Body Chute at Waverly Hills Sanitorium in June 2007.
From: TheCabinet
Sun Porch at Waverly Hills Sanitorium
The famous sun porches at Waverly Hills Sanitorium where patients were placed - June 2007.
From: TheCabinet
The Infamous Room 502 at Waverly Hills Sanitorium
The entrance of the infamously haunted Room 502 at Waverly Hills Sanitorium in June 2007.
From: TheCabinet
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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