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The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a closed sanatorium located in southwestern Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky. It opened in 1910 as a two-story hospital to accommodate 40 to 50 tuberculosis patients. In the early 1900s, Jefferson County was ravaged by an outbreak of tuberculosis (the “White Plague”) which prompted the construction of a new hospital. The hospital closed in 1961, due to the antibiotic drug streptomycin that lowered the need for such a hospital.
Waverly Hills has been popularized on the television show Ghost Hunters as being one of the “most haunted” hospitals in the eastern United States. The sanatorium was featured on ABC/FOX Family Channel’s Scariest Places On Earth, VH1’s Celebrity Paranormal Project, Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, Zone Reality’s Creepy, the British show Most Haunted, Paranormal Challenge and Ghost Adventures on Travel Channel. Also popularizing Waverly Hills was the film Spooked: The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, released in 2006, which purports to document paranormal sightings at the site
Plans have been developed to convert the sanatorium into a hotel and conference center.
The land that is today known as Waverly Hill was purchased by Major Thomas H. Hays in 1883 as the Hays’ family home. Since the new home was far away from any existing schools, Mr. Hays decided to open a local school for his daughters to attend. He started a one-room schoolhouse on Pages Lane and hired Lizzie Lee Harris as the teacher. Due to Miss Harris’ fondness for Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, she named the schoolhouse Waverly School. Major Hays liked the peaceful-sounding name, so he named his property Waverley Hill. The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital kept the name when they bought the land and opened the sanatorium. It is not known exactly when the spelling changed to exclude the second “e” and became Waverly Hills. However the spelling fluctuated between both spellings many times over the years.
One of the legends told of Waverly Hills involves a man in a white coat who has been seen walking in the kitchen and the smell of cooking food that sometimes wafts through the room. During their initial visit, they found the kitchen was a disaster, a ruin of broken windows, fallen plaster, broken tables and chairs and puddles of water and debris that resulted from a leaking roof. The cafeteria had not fared much better. It was also in ruins and the team quickly retreated. Before they could do so though, several of them reported the sounds of footsteps, a door swinging shut and the smell of fresh baked bread in the air. A quick search revealed that no one else was in the building and there was certainly no one cooking anything in the kitchen. They could come up with no logical explanation for what had occurred.
Ghost researchers are always drawn to the fifth floor of the former hospital. The fifth floor consisted of two nurses’ stations, a pantry, a linen room, medicine room and two medium-sized rooms on both sides of the two nurses’ stations. One of these, Room 502, is the subject of many rumors and legends and just about every curiosity-seeker that had broken into Waverly Hills over the years wanted to see it. This is where, according to the stories, people have jumped to their deaths, have seen shapes moving in the windows and have heard disembodied voices that order trespassers to “get out”.
There is a lot of speculation as to what went on in this part of the hospital but what is believed is that mentally insane tuberculosis patients were housed on the fifth floor. This kept them far away from the rest of the patients in the hospital but still in an area where they could benefit from the fresh air and sunshine. This floor is actually centered in the middle of the hospital and the two wards, extending out from the nurses’ station, is glassed in on all sides and opens out onto a patio-type roof. The patients were isolated on either side of the nurses’ stations and they had to go to a half door at each station to get their food and medicine and to use the restroom, which was located adjacent to the station.
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