One of the most haunted places on Earth started off as one of the most innocent. But then, I suppose that’s the way all the best ghost stories begin.
In 1883, Major Thomas H. Hays bought the plot of land in Louisville, Kentucky that is now known as Waverly Hills. It was an idyllic, peaceful plot of land, and it was there that Major Hays decided to build a school for his daughters to attend. One of the teachers that he hired for the school was a woman named Lizzie Lee Harris. She was the one who, however unwittingly, gave the fated location its name. She was a fan of a series of books titled “Waverley”, and so she named the school “Waverley School”. Major Hays liked the name so much that he elected to name the entire property “Waverley Hills”. (It’s worth noting that the loss of the second ‘e’ is not a typo, but simply happened to Waverly Hills over the years.)
At the time, tuberculosis had reached epidemic levels in several places. It was a particularly big problem in Kentucky because of the swampy areas which provided the perfect place for bacteria to grow. Because of this, in 1908, the decision to build the sanatorium was made. The other places in the area that had already been treating TB victims were far too small.
At the time, doctors were struggling to combat TB while faced with limited knowledge and no cure. They wanted to treat both the physical and mental health problems patients suffered because of TB, so they made an effort to keep patients’ morale up, and to make them as comfortable as possible. Some of the more pleasant treatments involved lots of fresh air, exposure to ultraviolet light, and access to sunlamps.
Unfortunately, there were also many more horrifying treatments that would not be acceptable when compared to modern standards. Some procedures were conducted by inserting balloons into patients’ lungs and blowing them up, and operations were done to remove two to three ribs from a patient in order to give their lungs more room to expand. These procedures were excruciating, and, more often than not, resulted in death.
Fortunately, a proper treatment was discovered for TB by the 1930s, and the sanatorium closed due to lack of need.
Between 1962 and 1982, the sanatorium was converted into “Woodhaven Geriatric Center”. It was eventually closed down due to not enough staff and far too many patients. There were also many reports of patient neglect and rumours of experiments being conducted on patients.
There have been many other proposals for conversions of the building over the years, ranging from a prison to a statue of Christ the Redeemer and then to a set of apartment buildings. All were rejected or shut down due to lack of funding or public outcry.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium is currently privately owned by Charlie and Tina Mattingly, who are attempting to restore the building from its current state of disrepair. They allow paranormal investigators in and tours for the general public, and the money from these goes towards the repair fund.
Charlie Mattingly was originally a skeptic when he bought the place, but has now admitted to his own encounters with various ghosts that are believed by many to haunt the place.
From small children who roam the halls, nurses that have killed themselves, and elderly patients who walk around crying, there is no limit to the dead who just can’t seem to leave this place. For more information on the supernatural residents that exist forever within these walls, I encourage you to check out articles such as “Waverly Hills Haunted Sanitarium” and “Kentucky’s Hospital of the Damned”. I also encourage you to do your own research on the place, but here are a few of the ghosts that have been known to hang around:
Timmy is a young boy who roams the halls of the old hospital, looking for something to play with. Some guests have been said to bring him balls, and those balls are then seen floating in the air or rolling down the hall on their own. Sometimes Timmy already has his own ball to play with.
No one is quite sure what his story is, whether he was the child of a patient, or a patient himself, but either way, he now haunts the place. He’s one of the more friendly spirits that exist within Waverly Hills’ walls.
Room 502 was a patient room that was linked to a couple of suicides while the hospital was still running. The first was a young nurse who was said to have been pregnant and unmarried, and, unhappy with her life, she hung herself in the room.
Another victim, also a nurse, apparently threw herself from the roof one night, though nobody knows why. She also worked in room 502 while she was still alive.
Some tourists that visit the place while pregnant have reported feeling very uncomfortable in the vicinity of room 502, and a number of other tourists have been filled with the desire to jump off the room while up there looking around, and have had to be talked down.
Woman in Chains
Not a lot is known about the woman in chains except that she looks older, perhaps having been a patient while the hospital was a geriatric center. She walks around the halls with chains around bleeding wrists, and cries out for help. But whenever someone actually moves towards her, she runs away screaming.
The creeper is apparently one of the rarer presences among Waverly Hills’ residents. Like the woman in chains, not a whole lot is known about him beyond the feeling of dread that washes over anyone who gets near him.
He’s rumoured to crawl around on the floor, up the walls, and on the ceilings, and no one really know his past or what his intentions are. Some speculate that he was one of the horribly mistreated patients, and that his trauma in life has warped in death.
These are just a few examples of the apparitions that haunt Waverly Hills, but the current owners plan to turn the building into a hotel that targets those interested in the paranormal. Look out for that in years to come, and for those of you interested in a tour now, check out the Waverly Hills website for more information.
Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.