Waverly Hills Sanatorium…haunted or not?

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Located in Louisville, Kentucky, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was originally erected as a hospital to house and treat tuberculosis patients during the midst of a TB epidemic.

While conditions were mostly good for the thousands of patients treated there and most lived, over 8,000 men, women, and children died within its walls during its glory years. Some believe the reason so many spirits are trapped in the hospital is because they’re unable to move on after the gruesome and sometimes barbaric treatments that were used to treat TB at the time: breaking and removing ribs, inserting latex balloons into the lungs, and leaving patients in open winter air for hours or days at a time.

In 1943, TB was dying down so the hospital was converted to a nursing home called Woodhaven Geriatric Center. Many of the elderly residents housed there passed away during their stay, contributing to the total death count.

Death wasn’t reserved for patients and residents; some staff died unnatural deaths in the hospital, too. There are rumors but no solid evidence that two nurses committed suicide in room 502 – the first by hanging when she realized she was unwed and pregnant (possibly following an affair with the administrator) and another nurse jumped to her death from the same room 4 years later.

Today, Waverly Hills Sanitorium is known as America’s most haunted hospital. While spirits have been observed throughout the hospital, sightings are more frequent in room 502 and the “body chute,” a tunnel that was used to discretely transport the bodies of deceased patients out of the hospital.

Some of the experiences reported by ghost hunters and tourists who have visited the haunted hospital include: 

  • A group of friends visited the sanatorium and had a blood-curdling experience: they were haunted by shadows following them from the roof and throughout the building and saw ghastly footprints in puddles inside the building. One of the members of the group shared a strong desire to jump from the roof out of fear when they were there.
  • The Louisville Ghost Hunters Society walked through the kitchen, which was dilapidated and in ill repair, and attempted to pass through and on to the next room when they heard footsteps, witnessed the sound of an oven door closing, and smelled fresh baked bread
  • Others have reported seeing what they call “the creeper,” a dark, ghastly presence that floats along the floor and brings with it a feeling of intense doom.
  • Travelers have reported an elderly women with injured wrists and ankles – presumably from being chained in her past moaning and groaning throughout the halls. She screams horrifically and flees when approached.
  • Many ghost enthusiasts believe that the spirit of a little boy who died in the hospital is still present today, so they bring toys and wait for them to move – and many claim they have.
  • Many tour guides have reported seeing ghosts that mimic their own appearance and voice, except they have black holes where their eyes should be.
  • Some have seen a hearse behind the sanatorium, dropping off coffins.
  • Others have witnessed flying objects, flashing lights, and even acts of violence coming from spirits within the hospital.

The hotel is still open today and caters to supernatural enthusiasts, ghost hunters, and thrill-seekers looking for a haunted hotel stay or guided tour.

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