Sunday, October 30, 2011

Waverly Hills Sanatorium - Louisville, Kentucky

In 1883 Major Thomas H. Hays purchased some land in north central Kentucky just south west of Louisville to serve as his new home.  Far away from schools, he decided to build a small school house on a hill in his property.  The school teacher he hired to run the school especially enjoyed the writings of Walter Scott through his Waverley novels.  So she named the new building, Waverley School.  Hays liked the name so he named the entire property Waverley Hills.  However, over a century later the grounds would have a more ominous reputation as host to what remains of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium circa 1926

Around the turn of the century, the ground was purchased by the Board of Tuberculosis Hospital to erect a hospital specifically for tuberculosis patients in need of special care and to keep the disease isolated.  It was expanded again in 1911 and over the years an average of one building per year was added on with a major expansion in 1924.  In all when it was finished, it could accommodate over four hundred patients at a time.  

An aerial view of Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky

With tuberculosis being an almost always fatal outcome for the patient, the hospital gained the dubious reputation of performing some unorthodox treatments in an effort to curb the disease which would seem barbaric by today's standards.  Sometimes the treatment was worse than the disease itself such as inserting balloons in the lungs, completely removing a lung, compressing a person's chest, and removal of ribs to allow expansion of lungs.  It was almost every other day a patient would die. A tunnel was constructed which led down the hill at rear of the hospital so that bodies could be lowered down the shaft so as not do dissuade the spirits of the other patients.  The bodies were then loaded on a train and taken away from the hospital.  Later this would get the notorious nickname of "the death chute".  Over the fifty years that the hospital was in service, over eight thousand people died there.  

At it's peak, the Waverly Sanatorium housed over 400 patients at a time awaiting their fate in the open air balconies

The onset of the advancement in science helped spell the end for the Waverly Sanatorium.  The hospital fell out of service after the 1930s when new medicines were invented to cure the disease.  In 1961 Waverly Hills Sanatorium was closed down.

The Waverly Hills tunnel nicknamed "the death chute" constructed to allow bodies to be removed from the hospital unseen by the current patients

The hospital saw new life however, when in 1962 the building was re-opened as Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium.  This facility did not have a much better reputation as the first.  There were reports of patient abuse and again unorthodox treatments and experimentation such as electric shock treatment.  The conditions became worse in the hospital due to a lack of funding and 1982 the state closed the hospital's doors. Since then, there have been several owners and attempts at converting the hospital into other things such as a prison and an apartment complex but none of these ever came to light.

The outside entrance to The Waverly Hills tunnel nicknamed "the death chute" where bodied would be removed from the sanatorium

The building that was once Waverly Hills Sanatorium has gained a reputation for being haunted over the years from the apparition of a cook that has been seen in the kitchen to a little girl seen playing in the third floor solarium.  A young boy has been seen running through the hallways playing as if he lived there.  For many patients young and old, this was the place where they spent the last of their days alive.

Other paranormal activity such as doors opening and closing on their own and unaided and unexplained lights that have been seen in the windows of the building from afar have been reported by many.

Photo taken at Waverly Hills believed to be that of a ghost

The most haunted and highest concentration of paranormal activity seems to be located on the fifth floor especially room 502.  It is said that several nurses committed suicide in this location of the hospital.  It could be that some unnatural force is drawing people to this room to end their lives.  One nurse hung herself from a light fixture, and another jumped off of the balcony followed by others as well.  It is in this portion of the building that many claim to have heard disembodied voices.  It is believed that the TB patients who where mentally insane were kept in this part of the hospital to keep them isolated from others.  Perhaps this may explain some of the negative energy or spirits that abound on the fifth floor.

Another photo that looks to be the same as the area pictured above with patients in their beds only a bit delapidated.  Only this time, it is not a live patient that is seen in the photo.

The Waverly Hills complex at 4400 Paralee Ln, Louisville, Kentucky still stands today and is privately owned.  Plans are in the works by the current owners to restore the old structure and turn it into a hotel for fans of the paranormal.  They currently hold haunted tours that raise money to fund the restoration project.  So one day you may be able to book a room at Waverly Hills.  However, unlike the former residents who checked in, but never checked out!

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is open for haunted tours and plans are in the works to convert it into a hotel for paranormal enthusiasts

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