Waverly Hills. To many of you, these two words already hold some significance in your mind. Maybe it is fear, or what about curiosity, or even excitement. That place has been commonly known to cause those three emotions time and time again. Especially fear. Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a gatekeeper to many dark secrets. Having performed many unethical “treatments” by today’s medical standard the building is anything but normal. The answers to most of these secrets have fallen away in time, but a select few still cling to existence. Take for instance the Body Chute? Room 502? What about tiny children on the roof playing ring around the rosie? Remarkable enough, not everything about Waverly Hills Sanatorium has an evil ring to it. The building used to represent hope to sick and dying people. Once these patients and doctors are introduced to the building however, the illustrious stories begin.
New studies and recent discoveries have really helped us understand what exactly took place inside the dark scary walls of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Stories such as the Body Chute have always been known to anyone brave enough to listen. This five hundred foot tunnel used to transport deceased Tuberculosis patients to an awaiting hearse is anything but friendly. The doctors of Waverly Hills believed that a high morale was crucial in a patient’s speedy recovery. Having deceased victims, of the then incurable disease, being carried out the front door was obviously no morale booster, so the tunnel was built. During the course of winter, on especially harsh days, the body chute was also used to transport supplies to and from the sanitarium. The tunnel was equipped with both stairs and a motorized cart system to move both bodies and supplies (Bryan). This motorized cart system was very efficient and very important to the residents of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Since the cart was able to carry coal and other heavy supplies, it was a great method of receiving the provisions the hospital needed. A final purpose for this chute was to serve as an air raid shelter. During its operation time, the residents of Waverly Hills experienced many additional hard, trying times including World War Two. If you add the fact that it was a place to go when you were seriously sick and dying with these terrible times occurring, that makes it very easy to see why Waverly Hills Sanatorium was such a miserable place. It is easy to see why Waverly became an ominous place that a number of its ailing residents have been trapped in to this day. Many say that voices can be heard inside the body slide on a noticeably chilly day. These voices leave a cold, menacing reminder to the vast amounts of, cargo, this tunnel once housed.
Room 502 is another place in this vast, haunted playground where one should not wish to stay for very long. This room is the crime scene of two of Waverly Hills Sanitariums’ top nurses. Both women supposedly took their own lives and both still remain a mystery today. Researchers speculate that the first woman hung herself in an attempt to hide the shame of her bastard child. A doctor of the facility was rumored to have impregnated her and apparently the dishonor was so great, she was forced to seize her own life. The second woman’s death is an even greater mystery. The nurse died by falling several stories to the cold hard ground below, but why? Stories say she was more than likely pushed to her death. While others say she jumped out of her own free will (WHRG). Could she have been hiding a secret? Regular tourists and particularly pregnant visitors of room 502 confirm that upon entering this room you become enveloped in a state of great despair. A select few have also claimed to see a woman dressed in all white walking about this room before hearing the spine tingling whisper of a woman seething the words “Get out” (Taylor).
Perhaps the most haunted part of the decaying sanatorium is the fourth floor. Troy Taylor states, “The fourth floor is the only floor kept locked at all times and undoubtedly the most…active”. During his visit he immediately notices something is awry upon entering the fourth floor. “I’m no psychic, but I can definitely feel a disturbance in the air,” he says (Taylor). Doors were heard slamming shut, and shadows began to dance across the walls. Before his very eyes, the shadow of a doctor in a lab coat crossed the hallway into an adjacent room. Both Troy Taylor and his tour guide saw this extremity and quickly ruled out the possibility of any third party light interference. Was this truly a ghost of a trapped human being or a well-performed prank? These men were not the first to have seen an apparition like this lingering in this area. Other visitors have been recorded saying they to have seen this very ghost on multiple separate occasions. Other quirks on this floor include orbs of light, irregular moving shadows, and even other human apparitions have been sighted (Taylor).
The final area well known for being haunted is the kitchen and dining area. Several ghosts have been rumored to wander around in search of an unknown desire. A spectral man in a white coat and pants has been spotted here (Bryan). Stories passed down say this man was a common cook in the sanatorium that contracted Tuberculosis and died inside Waverly Hills during his lifetime. Smells including freshly baked bread and cooking soup have been noticed wafting from the kitchen area. Of course no one is able to produce these aromas due to the fact that the building has been abandoned for years. Another common oddity is an elderly woman covered in blood wearing metal cuffs (Bryan). She was tragically left here by a child or relative during the buildings Geriatric Hospital days. The woman was commonly mistreated and kept in miserable conditions. She longs for the return of her family that will never come to rescue her. Waverly Hills Research Group asked a woman named Marie to perform a psychic investigation on the building. Marie’s psychic investigation tells us that the old woman longs for an escape that will never come. The elderly woman can never face the fact that she is dead and there is no escape from Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanatorium. An unnerving remainder of what the building still holds.
On a brighter note, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has not always just been a place for ghost hunters and adrenaline junkies. When originally built, it represented hope during a time of tragedy and despair. Tuberculosis, or “White Death,” as people called it was a highly contagious and deadly disease. Tuberculosis is most commonly spread via droplets of moisture exhaled from infected patients’ lungs. If a person contracts this deadly virus, everyone around that person now had a severe chance of acquiring TB and dying. Entire households, groups, even entire towns were wiped out by a single disease. On December 5, 1928 the Louisville Times informs us that during the First World War, Tuberculosis killed more men than shot and shell (Gilbert). Louisville, being built in a low swampland area, provided the perfect hot/humid weather to serve as a breeding ground for TB. When people decided to take action in the year nineteen ten, a new hospital was raised on the windswept hill. This building quickly became overcrowded and new facilities were mandatory for the locals to survive this horrible epidemic.
With the massive donations of much needed money and additional property, a new hospital was started in nineteen twenty-four. This hospital surpassed the forty to fifty max patient numbers of the old hospital by over one thousand percent! The new hospital could now hold over five hundred patients and still run at an efficient pace (Santore). By nineteen twenty-six the new building was open and ready to treat tuberculosis patients. At three thousand six hundred twenty-five dollars a bed, this was the best treatment facility money could buy for a TB patient in this era (Gilbert). Each bed had personal access to a radio, phone, bell signal, and an electric light socket (Gilbert). Waverly Hills Sanatorium was even considered the best TB care center available in the entire United States (Taylor). The new hospital had chapels to attend every Sunday. A school for children inflicted with the disease to learn and study while the healing process took place. The staff could stay comfortably in their own side building, safe from the deadly disease.
Thousands of patients were now receiving the tremendous supervision required to survive. Sadly, thousands more still died. While rumor has it that over sixty thousand human beings have died inside the demeaning halls of Waverly Hills, a more reliable source tells us that according to old records the number was exponentially lower (Santore). Approximately six thousand to eight thousand people fell victim to Tuberculosis here. The exact number is forever lost due to inferior record keeping and the hectic lifestyle people lived during the plague. While the hospital was incredibly advanced, still no known definite cure existed to treat these victims of the White Death.
Patients were now pouring in from the area with varying stages of Tuberculosis. Approximately twenty-five percent were in stage one, twenty-seven percent had reached stage two, and a staggering forty-seven percent were in the advanced or final stages. To identify each person’s stage and treat them accordingly was an enormous task. This required that doctors and nurses act quickly to administer treatment in order to waste as little valuable time as possible. Not ALL of the treatment practices were quite as monstrous as we have been led to think but there are a few exceptions. With incomparable funding and the nations top minds at work, Waverly Hills was the birthplace of several new treatments. The most famous was a machine that has probably been used on you today. William V. Jordan invented the portable Lung X-Ray machine that could be assembled in fifteen minutes (Waverly Hills Research Group). This machine allowed doctors to safely see if a person was infected or healthy without cutting them open. After the invention of this machine, staff members could safely be chosen to handle food, patients, and other important items used in the treatment of Tuberculosis without spreading it.
Today we would inject anti-biotic vaccine into our bloodstream, in nineteen twenty-six a patient was required to sit outside for hours “soaking” in the sunlight and fresh air on the vast six hundred foot porch available. A regular patient with Tuberculosis received treatments including hours of fresh air, good healthy meals, and sunlight (Santore). Rumor has it the electric heating blanket was invented for TB patients having to sit in all the different types of weather conditions.
On the downside, other methods were not as easy as chilling on the back porch under a warm blanket with a radio. With the most severe cases, patients would endure much more painful times ahead of them in an attempt to save their lives. Agonizing surgeries, unethical treatments, and experimental practices that would most certainly leave a patient deceased or maimed for life were common for these patients. Lobectomy and Pneumoectomy were surgeries in which doctors would attempt to remove the infected portions of the lungs (WHRG). Little did doctors know, more harm than good was coming to these deprived humans being cut open. Many patients had seven to eight ribs removed to allow the lungs to expand. To make this surgery even worse, doctors could only remove a few ribs at a time. So not only do you have to endure ribs being removed, you have to endure ribs being removed on three or four separate occasions. The lucky patients had balloons placed inside their lungs to try and expand them (Taylor). Of course the “lucky” people with the balloon treatment had to have the damaged part of their lung collapsed first to kill the infection! This was done by removing ribs, putting air into the outer shell of the lung to cause the interior to collapse, or by physical force using bags of shot as pressure. After hearing that, isn’t it pretty obvious why some of the deceased have never laid to rest here?
This haunted house was not just used as a Tuberculosis Sanitarium but was also used as a treatment facility for the sick and elderly. Thanks to antibiotic advances, Waverly Hills was shut down in nineteen sixty-one. However, in nineteen sixty-two the building was re-opened, after one year being closed, under the new name Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium. Tracking information down for this portion of the buildings history has proved difficult. Most records were destroyed or never documented to contain the privacy of its illegal charters. Folklore and stories about Woodhaven Geriatric Sanatorium have survived and they all unite under one common theme. Pain and suffering (Ray). Patients here were victims of disrespect, neglect, and inhumane procedures. Going without food for extended periods of time was commonplace. Emergency radical surgeries often took place. The patients of these procedures rarely lived to speak again (Ray). Sadly, the majority of secrets the Woodhaven Geriatrics facility held have died with its staff and patients.
After sifting through countless pages of information it is no longer questionable if the late Waverly Hills Sanatorium is haunted. Separate incidents in the Body Chute, Room 502, the entire fourth floor, and dining areas provides us with overwhelming evidence that you wont be alone upon entering the premises. The building has gone from a symbol of hope, then to great pain and suffering, and now to an eternal graveyard for those unfortunate enough to be trapped inside. So much history and knowledge stored in one simple place. Researchers have only uncovered a fraction of the well-guarded secrets Waverly Hills Sanatorium withholds. Hundreds more of said secrets, are surely dying to come out.