Waverly Hills was originally a two-story wooden building that was opened in 1910, however, the building you see today was constructed in 1926. It served as a tuberculosis hospital throughout the early to mid 20th Century, a time when the disease was at its worst. It is believed that as many as 63,000 patients died there. The death toll as well as the supposed mistreatment and questionable experimental procedures on patients are all recipes that may be behind one of the most haunted buildings in the whole of the US.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium has built quite the reputation over the years as more and more people are allowed to investigate the premises. This has thrown up some incredible evidence over the years. It has featured on shows such as Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters (TAPS), and our very own Most Haunted. TAPS captured a figure on their thermal imaging camera that seemed to be walking across the hall. The figure was about 3ft tall, they later found out that the ghost of a young boy named Tim has been spotted there before.
There are vast amounts of varying reports, including full bodied apparitions, fleeting shadows, screams from empty rooms, footsteps, sudden cold spots, and disembodied voices among many others.
Back from the Dead is a scary story \ urban legend about a young wife who is stalked by an old man and disappears under mysterious circumstances.
So legend says there was a young woman named Esther who lived in Letcher County, Kentucky, in 1934. Her boyfriend was a young man named Ezra Jackson and the couple were very much in love.
However, there was an old man who had become obsessed with Esther. He was pestering her all the time and and asking her to marry him. She found him repulsive and didn’t want anything to do with him, but no matter what she did, she couldn’t get him to stop. He was stalking her and she was scared to death.
Eventually, she decided that if she had a husband, he might give up and leave her alone, so she married her boyfriend Ezra.
After the wedding, as the couple were driving home, the old man suddenly stepped out into the road in front of them. Ezra had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting him. The old man came up to Esther’s window and glared in at her.
“I’m going to die soon,” he growled, “but I’ll be back for you, and when I return, you’ll go with me…”
Ezra floored the accelerator and drove off at top speed, but Esther was freaked out and couldn’t stop thinking about what the old man had said.
A few days later, the old man was found dead in his home. His body was buried in the local cemetery. He had no friends or relatives and anyone who knew him had been afraid of him, so nobody mourned his passing.
A year after his death, on a snowy night in December, Esther was sitting in her living room, reading a book, when there was a knock at the front door. Her husband and his two brothers were in the kitchen.
“I’ll see who it is,” she called to them.
The three men heard her open the door, but they didn’t hear anybody come in. There were no voices, just an eerie silence.
After waiting for a few minutes, they went into the living room and found the door standing wide open. Esther was nowhere to be seen. When they looked outside, they found the tracks of her bare feet in the snow.
The three men quickly grabbed their coats and flashlights and set off in search of her. They followed the footprints for two miles, along the rough, snow-covered country road, until they came to the local cemetery. The footprints led through the gate and right up to the old man’s grave, where they vanished.
While his two brothers waited in the cemetery, Ezra went to fetch help. He came back with seven men from the village. It was midnight and the weather was freezing. Together, under the light of the flashlights and lanterns, they began to dig up the grave.
When they dragged out the coffin and opened it, they were horrified to discover it was empty.
Although a thorough search was made, no trace of the young wife or the old man’s body was ever found. And according to legend, to this day, the disappearance of Esther Jackson remains an unsolved mystery.
In the late 1800s and into the next century Americans were overtaken with the horrible disease called tuberculosis. During this time no cure existed for this disease and it took the lives of entire families, sometimes even entire towns. Louisville was by far one of the most of the impacted cities, having one of the worst tuberculosis death rates in America. Louisville was a breeding ground for tuberculosis and in 1910 a hospital was designed and constructed to host those affected and combat the horrible disease. Unfortunately with the widespread of the plague-like disease, the hospital quickly became overcrowded. The over-crowding lead to the creation of another hospital in 1924 which was created with donations of money and land.
This new hospital was named Waverly Hills opened in 1926. Waverly Hills was considered to be the most advanced tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States. However the majority of the patients still died.
Many patients did survive at Waverly Hills but the estimate is that hundreds perished there at the peak of the epidemic. Back in those times, no medicine was available to treat this disease, the practitioners of the time thought that the best treatment for tuberculosis was fresh air, the right foods and continuous rest.
However, some of the treatments for tuberculosis back then were pretty barbaric by today’s standards. For example, a patient’s lungs were put into an ultraviolet light to try and stop the spread of the bacteria. This experiment was conducted in “sun rooms”, using an artificial light, on the hospital roof or open porches. Since a theory was that fresh air might be a possible cure, many of the patients were sometimes placed in front of huge open windows or on the porches, no matter what the season. Some photographs depicted patients sitting in chairs out in the “fresh air” during the winter season covered in the snow.
Other practices however were much worse in comparison. For example, ribs and bones were removed from the chest cavities and latex balloons would be surgically implanted in the lungs and then filled with air to expand. I’m not quite sure what the benefit to this was but it was a “last resort” procedure and had very few survivors.
Waverly Hills had a “body chute” which was essentially a enclosed tunnel for the dead that lead from inside of the hospital to the railroad tracks at the bottom of a hill. The system utilized a motorized rail and cable system, the dead bodies were lowered in secret to trains. This was done in secrecy so that the other patients would not see how many deaths were actually occurring during their stay.
In 1943 new medicines had made their way around the country and had taken care of most of the cases of the disease in the United States. Waverly Hills closed its doors in 1961 and was re-opened a year later as Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium. Just like any old age or crazy home, rumors and stories were abundant on the amount of abuse that took place at Woodhaven. Many of the accusations turned out to be false but others unfortunately turned out to be true. Of course this included electroshock therapy which was considered to be highly effective in those days. The funding for the sanatorium was scarce in the 1960s and 1970s which led to both horrible conditions and patient mistreatments so in 1982 the facility was closed.
After it’s prime Waverly Hills was auctioned off and changed owners many times. By the turn of the 21st century, the building had been nearly destroyed, by the non-existent upkeep and by vandalism.
Waverly Hills had became a local “haunted house” and a magnet for the homeless looking to keep out of the weather. By nature of what it once was.. the hospital had earned reputation for being haunted.
There were many stories of ghosts, like the stories of children running around throughout the buliding into the solarium, the boy playing with a ball, the crying woman with slit wrists and a hearse that sometimes was seen in the back, dropping off coffins.
The classic sounds of slamming doors, mysterious glowing in the windows and strange sounds echoing through empty rooms.
Ghost hunters and paranormal researchers are naturally drawn to the fifth level. The fifth level held two nurses stations, a medicine closet, a storage room and two rooms on both sides of the nurses stations. The most famous of these rooms is Room 502, this room has held many stories, all of which are not for the faint of heart.
Everyone and anyone who has visited Waverly Hills has to see it. After all, this is where many people have committed suicide leading to the dark legends of Waverly Hills. Several witness have seen shapes moving in the windows and have heard demonic sounding voices that warn trespassers to “…get out!”.
Controversy is abundant here and no one really knows as to what went on in this part of the hospital but most believe that mentally insane tuberculosis patients were quarantined on this floor.
This floor is centered in the hospital and the two wards extending outward were glassed in on all sides and open out into a roof patio, that was perfect for the patients to get their “fresh air”.
As you may have guessed, there is no lack of stories surrounding this floor of the hospital.
In 1928 a head nurse was found dead in the Room 502 at only 29 years old. Investigators claim that she committed suicide by hanging herself from a light fixture centered in the room. Some claim that the nurse was unmarried and pregnant which caused her a great depression, ultimately leading to her self-imposed death.
Four years later another nurse who worked in this room is said to have thrown herself from the roof falling several stories to her death. Some say she was pushed over the edge by a malevolent spirit or a mentally disturbed patient.
Waverly Hill’s infamous notoriety was brought on by the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society.
The Society introduced the sanatorium to national television, held paranormal meetings there and conducted countless haunted tours of the sanatorium for those willing to enter.
Within five years members of the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society’s investigation, they experienced many paranormal encounters. These encounters ranged from eerie sounds, phantom slamming doors, unexplainable lights being lit, random flying objects, acts of violence from invisible forces, apparitions passing throughout the building and so on.
Some of the investigators experiences involved seeing many not so common dark floating shapes.
The sightings started around October 2001 on consecutive nights when the paranormal investigators were able to see seemingly human shadows moving up and back down within the fourth floor hall. Some of the darkened shadows actually appeared to peak around corners at the investigators. It should be noted that the investigators claimed that these happened most often when no flashlights were used.
Waverly Hills is confirmed to be haunted by many professional paranormal investigators and ghost hunters.
This ghastly location can be visited even today. If you have the courage and audacity then you, yourself can make the trip to see the supernatural spirits of this decrepit sanatorium in Kentucky.