20 Facts About Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Famous faces from beyond the grave.
On the Frontlines
A Glimpse Inside Waverly Hills Sanatorium
During the 1930s, a short film entitled On the Frontlines illustrated the revolutionary new medical treatments at several tuberculosis hospitals, including Waverly Hills Sanatorium. It is one of the few films of the hospital in use.
Major Thomas H. Hays’ School
In 1883, the plot of land where Waverly Hills currently sits was purchased by Major Thomas H. Hays, who built the family home there. Since it was too far from any sort of school, Hays opened his own on the land so his daughters could learn there.
Lizzie Lee Harris, the teacher that Mr. Hays hired, was a fan of Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, which prompted her to name the schoolhouse Waverley School. Mr. Hays liked the peacefulness of the name, dubbing his own property Waverley Hill. When the Board of Tuberculosis Hospitals bought the land, they kept the name, though they changed the spelling to “Waverly Hills” for unknown reasons.
When Waverly Hills Sanatorium opened in 1910, it had a capacity of 40 to 50 patients. During this time, a majority of the Louisville population had been infected with the disease.
Initially, the hospital was a two-story wood building. Eventually, it was granted $25,000 in funding, allowing Waverly Hills to rebuild in order to accommodate for cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. During the remodeling period, which started on August 31st, 1912, all of the patients were relocated to tents outside.
The children’s pavilion caused more issues than solutions, as it housed not only sick children but also the healthy children of the current TB patients at the hospital.
By 1924, the sanatorium could hold four hundred patients.
The Hospital’s Downfall
The downfall of Waverly Hills Sanatorium began in 1943 once streptomycin (a tuberculosis vaccine) came into the picture, as it greatly reduced the number of cases.
When the hospital began its shutdown, all of the remaining patients were transferred to the Hazelwood Sanatorium, also located in Louisville.
Woodhaven Geriatric Center
Waverly Hills closed for good in June 1961. In 1962, it reopened as Woodhaven Geriatric Center, a nursing home for aging patients with dementia, mobility issues, and mental disabilities. The center closed down only 20 years later due to patient negligence.
Sanitarium or Sanatorium?
Waverly Hills Sanatorium is often mistaken for an insane asylum and incorrectly called “Waverly Hills Sanitarium.” The top floor did house mentally and developmentally challenged patients, though.
The Cadaver Chute
One of the most notorious parts of Waverly Hills is its death tunnel, which was used to transport deceased patients to a hearse below. The chute was implemented in order to keep patient morale up.
The Nurse’s Suicide
An unmarried pregnant nurse contracted tuberculosis while working at the hospital. She hung herself with a light bulb wire in Room #502. She is one of the more famous resident spirits haunting the hospital.
Urban legend says that Waverly Hills Sanatorium had a death rate of 100,000. The actual number is believed to be 8,212.
The sanatorium has been featured in at least fifteen different TV shows, though the number is likely much higher.
During the early 2010s, it was rumored that a section of the hospital would become a hotel.
There are countless videos proving just how haunted the hospital is.
While not an actual world record, Waverly Hills Sanatorium is widely considered the most haunted location in the world.
Tour admission fees for Waverly Hills Sanatorium are used to renovate and restore the hospital in order to keep it in safe condition.
Some of the tuberculosis treatments that took place at the hospital include rib removal, compressing the lungs with sandbags, removal of the lungs, and several other grisly treatments.