In 1883, the land was purchased by Major Thomas H. Hays. Where Major Hays started a 1-room school house for his daughters. The teacher he hired, Miss Lizzie Lee Harris, loved Sir Walter Scott?s Waverly novels and named the school Waverley School.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium was built 1910 as a 2 story frame building to accommodate about 50 tuberculosis patients maximum. But later they realized with over 140 patients the growing epidemic was demanding a big hospital.
In 1926 the sanitorium that exists today was built with the idea of 500 available beds, Waverley Hills became home to thousands who suffered and died there.
While there, one of the treatments for the patients was fresh air. They would be lined up on windowless porches year round receiving the best treatment there was. Antibiotics where not invented yet. Electric blankets where developed to keep the patients warm in the winter months.
Because of the high death rate, the 500 foot long supply tunnel was turned into the body chute. Where the bodies could be disposed of without upsetting the patients who where still suffering.
Along with the patients, the healthy children of the patients also lived there at times. Waverley was a tuberculosis hospital until 1961. It was closed and renovated in 1962 and reopened as WoodHaven Medical Services until 1980 for the elderly. The state closed it in 1980 for alleged patient abuse.
Apparitions, objects moving, EVP?s, strange anomalies on film have all been caught at this place.
The owners are trying to restore this building. They are using money they collect for tours and TV specials to do this
During the 1800s and early 1900s, America was ravaged by a deadly disease known by many as the “white death” --- tuberculosis. This terrifying and very contagious plague, for which no cure existed, claimed entire families and sometimes entire towns. In 1900, Louisville, Kentucky had one of the highest tuberculosis death rates in America. Built on low, swampland, the area was the perfect breeding ground for disease and in 1910, a hospital was constructed on a windswept hill in southern Jefferson County that had been designed to combat the horrific disease. The hospital quickly became overcrowded though and with donations of money and land, a new hospital was started in 1924.
The new structure, known as Waverly Hills, opened two years later in 1926. It was considered the most advanced tuberculosis sanatorium in the country but even then, most of the patients succumbed to the disease. In those days before medicine was available to treat the disease, it was thought that the best treatment for tuberculosis was fresh air, plenty of nutritious food and lots of rest. Many patients survived their stay at Waverly Hills but it is estimated that hundreds died here at the height of the epidemic.
In many cases, the treatments for the disease were as bad as the disease itself. Some of the experiments that were conducted in search of a cure seem barbaric by today’s standards but others are now common practice. Patient’s lungs were exposed to ultraviolet light to try and stop the spread of bacteria. This was done in “sun rooms”, using artificial light in place of sunlight, or on the roof or open porches of the hospital. Since fresh air was thought to also be a possible cure, patients were often placed in front of huge windows or on the open porches, no matter what the season. Old photographs show patients lounging in chairs, taking in the fresh air, while literally covered with snow.
Other treatments were less pleasant --- and much bloodier. Balloons would be surgically implanted in the lungs and then filled with air to expand them. Needless to say, this often had disastrous results, as did operations where muscles and ribs were removed from a patient’s chest to allow the lungs to expand further and let in more oxygen. This blood-soaked procedure was seen as a “last resort” and few of the patients survived it.
While the patients who survived both the disease and the treatments left Waverly Hills through the front door, the majority of patients left through what came to be known as the “body chute”. This enclosed tunnel for the dead led from the hospital to the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill. Using a motorized rail and cable system, the bodies were lowered in secret to the waiting trains. This was done so that patients would not see how many were leaving the hospital as corpses. Their mental health, the doctors believed, was just as important as their physical health.
By the late 1930s, tuberculosis had begun to decline around the world and by 1943, new medicines had largely eradicated in the United States. In 1961, Waverly Hills was closed down but was re-opened a year later as Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium. There have been many rumors and stories told about patient mistreatment and unusual experiments during the years that the building was used an old age home. Some of them have been proven to be false but others have unfortunately turned out to be true. Electroshock therapy, which was considered to be highly effective in those days, was widely used for a variety of ailments. Budget cuts in the 1960s and 1970s led to both horrible conditions and patient mistreatments and in 1982, the state closed the facility for good.
Is any wonder, after all of the death, pain and agony within these walls, that Waverly Hills is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country?
The buildings and land that made up Waverly Hills were auctioned off and changed hands many times over the course of the next two decades. By 2001, the once stately building had nearly destroyed by time, the elements and the vandals who came here looking for a thrill. Waverly Hills had become the local “haunted house” and it became a magnet for the homeless, looking for shelter, and teenagers, who broke in looking for ghosts. The hospital soon gained a reputation for being haunted and stories began to circulate of resident ghosts like the little girl who was seen running up and down the third floor solarium, the little boy who was spotted with a leather ball, the hearse that appeared in the back of the building dropping off coffins, the woman with the bleeding wrists who cried for help and others. Visitors told of slamming doors, lights in the windows as if power was still running through the building, strange sounds and eerie footsteps in empty rooms.
It was at this time that the hospital came to the attention of Keith Age, and the Louisville Ghost Hunter’s Society. Keith was a long-time friend of mine and a representative for the American Ghost Society in Louisville. It would be his work with a television show that would bring him to Waverly Hills. Over the course of the next several years, the group had a number of unexplainable encounters in the building.
One of the legends told of Waverly Hills involves a man in a white coat who has been seen walking in the kitchen and the smell of cooking food that sometimes wafts through the room. During their initial visit, they found the kitchen was a disaster, a ruin of broken windows, fallen plaster, broken tables and chairs and puddles of water and debris that resulted from a leaking roof. The cafeteria had not fared much better. It was also in ruins and the team quickly retreated. Before they could do so though, several of them reported the sounds of footsteps, a door swinging shut and the smell of fresh baked bread in the air. A quick search revealed that no one else was in the building and there was certainly no one cooking anything in the kitchen. They could come up with no logical explanation for what had occurred.
Ghost researchers are always drawn to the fifth floor of the former hospital. The fifth floor consisted of two nurses’ stations, a pantry, a linen room, medicine room and two medium-sized rooms on both sides of the two nurses’ stations. One of these, Room 502, is the subject of many rumors and legends and just about every curiosity-seeker that had broken into Waverly Hills over the years wanted to see it. This is where, according to the stories, people have jumped to their deaths, have seen shapes moving in the windows and have heard disembodied voices that order trespassers to “get out”.
There is a lot of speculation as to what went on in this part of the hospital but what is believed is that mentally insane tuberculosis patients were housed on the fifth floor. This kept them far away from the rest of the patients in the hospital but still in an area where they could benefit from the fresh air and sunshine. This floor is actually centered in the middle of the hospital and the two wards, extending out from the nurses’ station, is glassed in on all sides and opens out onto a patio-type roof. The patients were isolated on either side of the nurses’ stations and they had to go to a half door at each station to get their food and medicine and to use the restroom, which was located adjacent to the station.
The legends of the fifth floor are many:
Stories say that in 1928, the head nurse in Room 502 was found dead in Room 502. She had committed suicide by hanging herself from the light fixture. She was 29 years-old at the time of her death and allegedly, unmarried and pregnant. Her depression over the situation led her to take her own life. It’s unknown how long she may have been hanging in this room before her body was discovered. And this would not be the only tragedy to occur in this room.
In 1932, another nurse who worked in Room 502 was said to have jumped from the roof patio and plunged several stories to her death. No one seems to know why she would have done this but many have speculated that she may have actually have been pushed over the edge. There are no records to indicate this but rumors continue to persist.