A haunting is often brought on by trauma and what place sees more trauma than a hospital? During the early 1900’s there was an outbreak of the very contagious, tuberculosis, also known as “white death”. With no cure available at the time, the disease would claim entire families. One of the highest death rates was in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1910 a hospital was built on a hill in Jefferson County with hopes of combating the disease. The hospital quickly became overcrowded, and in 1924 a new structure was started. Two years later in 1926, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was opened.
Though considered very advanced for its time, the hospital still saw many succumb to the disease. While searching for a cure, patients’ experienced “treatments” that were at times worse than the sickness itself. It was believed at the time that rest and fresh air were the best cures. Patients would be placed outside regardless of the weather. They even tried exposing a patient’s lungs to ultraviolet light to try and stop bacteria from growing.
The many patients’ that did not survive would be sent down the “body chute”, this tunnel for the dead bodies led from the hospital to the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill. The bodies were lowered using a motorized cable and rail system in secret to waiting trains. The hospital staff knew it would be too traumatic for the surviving patients to see just how many were dying from this disease.
Soon tuberculosis began to decline by the late 1930’s and by 1946 new medications began to get the disease under control. Waverly Hills was closed in 1961 and was reopened as Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanatorium. However the patients in the old age home were mistreated and many ailments were treated with electroshock therapy. Budget cuts led to horrible conditions, this combined with patient mistreatment led to the facility closing for good in 1982.
Considering the rich history, illness, trauma and death, it really is understandable why Waverly Hills is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the U.S. Though the patients and staff are physically long gone, many spirits seem to have remained. A man in a white coat can be seen on occasion, he walks to the kitchen and the smell of fresh baked bread is apparent, though anyone looking at the kitchen can easily see a forgotten dilapidated, room where no one has cooked anything in for decades.
Room 502 is one of the most infamous. In 1928 the head nurse of the room was found dead. She had hung herself from a light fixture. There was a theory that she was pregnant out of wedlock and couldn’t handle her depression. A few years later in 1932 another nurse for the same room fell to her death from the roof patio. There has been speculation that she was actually pushed by an unseen force. Paranormal investigators that have visited this room have encountered shadows, and a voice that warns to ‘get out”.
On the third floor there is the spirit of a little girl named Mary. She is believed to enjoy playing with a ball that will roll across the floor or down the stairs. She is reported to appear and continually repeats that she has no eyes. Mary is just one of the many full bodied apparitions to be seen. Dr’s, nurses, and patients can still be seen, voices and strange noises can be heard down the “body chute”. There is also a distraught spirit believed to be a former patient that can be seen running and screaming for help, her wrists bleeding. Perhaps one of the most disturbing stories is that of the “Creeper”, a spirit that crawls from room to room, sometimes along the walls or ceilings. This particular spirit is said to feel very dark and non human.
Waverly Hills is currently open for tours and is in the process of being restored. Some feel this may add to the paranormal activity. Spirits seem to be stirred whenever construction is taking place. Tour info and the restoration process can be viewed on the website http://www.