Date of Establishment & Haunting
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium was established in the early 20th century, it was remodeled twice first in 1912 then later in 1926. In 1961 it was closed and in 1962 the sanatorium was reopened as the Woodhaven Geriatric Sanatorium as a private nursing home and firm.
Name & Location
Waverly Hills Sanatorium or Woodhaven Geriatric Sanatorium is still located to this day in Louisville, KY
The original facility was wooden with two stories that had two open-air pavilions built on top of a hill on the property. Surrounded by beautiful trees and gardens the sanitarium could house 40 to 50 patients at that time. The first remodeled in 1912 expanded the facility, they added more rooms onto the small building while also adding another building to the grounds for children. In 1926 the facility underwent a second remodeling, the massive building can be seen still standing today, this abled them to house 450 to 500 patients.
Waverly Hills started as a sanatorium for those stricken with tuberculosis, they believed in fighting the illness with fresh air, quarantine from the community, and positive attitudes. At the height of the outbreak across the state, they housed around 450 to 500 patients at any given time, people of all ages and children. When the death toll hit its highest the victims were carried though an under-ground tunnel to hide the morbid evidence from the other tenants. The tunnel became known as the “body chute” rather than the supply tunnel it had been made to be. Once the outbreak became under control statewide they closed the sanatorium as it was not needed further.
In 1962 it was repurchased by the state and changed names to Woodhaven Geriatric Sanatorium, then later replacing sanatorium with center. Many of the Woodhaven patients where reporting mistreatment and experimental tests being performed on them, which lead to the final closing of the facility completely.
Mythology and Lore
Most of the records have been lost from Waverly Hills but in height of the epidemic outbreak, they estimated one death per hour, which means thousands met their end within these walls before a cure was formed. This number alone leads many to believe there was a ghostly presence left behind, and well as the “body chute” being a creepy dark tunnel thousands of bodies were carried out of the facility in. Due to the lack of records, most of the original accounts of ghost stories have been lost from this time. The barbaric treatments were unlimited as they tried to battle the outbreak, many patients sat in front of open windows for hours in the middle of winter. Others had their lungs exposed to ultraviolet light and even expanded by balloons which was often fatal.
Upon the reopening in 1962 as Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium many tales of patients started to unfold of mistreatment, abuse, and unusual experiments happening within its walls. Electroshock therapy was used frequently as during this time it was the most effective treatment, even though tragic losses and side-effects happened. During the late 1970s, Woodhaven found itself in the middle of state violation and patient abuse cases which lead to it being shut down for good.
The haunting stories began to flood the area as the build sat unused for years, like the little girl who ran up and down the 3rd floor, the little boy who played with a leather ball, a woman who was bleeding from the wrists crying out for help, a hearse that appears dropping off coffins around the back of the building, the white-coated man walking through the kitchen, and many other nameless ghosts have appeared. Visitors reported doors slamming on their own, lights in windows, the smell of food cooking in the kitchen, all manner of strange sounds, and eerie footsteps walking the halls and rooms. Perhaps one of the greatest known legends was on the 5th floor in room 502 where shapes are seen in the windows, disembodied voices are heard, and even ghosts jumping to their deaths below. The reports show that in 1928 a nurse was found hanging from a light fixture after committing suicide in room 502. In 1932 another nurse jumped from the roof after working room 502 for months.
Since its final closing, many volunteer workers helping with the restoration of the building have reported wide ranges of ghostly encounters and experiences. Many people have visited the site to take its ghost tours leading to a large number of stories and reports of the activity they experienced. To this day the guided tours continue to run as the team at Waverly Hills Sanatorium work to restore and maintain the building and grounds it sits on.
Modern Pop-Culture References
Books & Literature
- With Their Dying Breaths: A History of Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium (2012)
- Waverly Hills Incursion (2014)
- The Incurable: History and Haunting of Waverly Hills Sanatorium (2016)
- Haunted Journeys: Waverly Hills (2017)
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