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About Waverly Hills

Waverly Hills Sanatorium, located in Louisville, Kentucky, opened in 1910 as a two-story hospital to accommodate 40 to 50 tuberculosis patients. It has been popularized on television as being one of the "most haunted" hospitals in the eastern United States, and was seen on ABCFOX Family Channel's Scariest Places On Earth as well as VH1's Celebrity Paranormal Project.


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 now so far away from any existing schools, Mr Hays decided to open a local school for his daughters to go to. He started a one room school house on Pages Lane, and hired Lizzie Lee Harris as the teacher. Miss Harris loved her tiny school nestling against the hillside, and remembered her fondness for Walter Scott's Waverley novels, so she named her little school house "Waverly School". Major Hays liked the peaceful sounding name, so he named his property "Waverly Hill" and 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.

In the early 20th century, Jefferson County was severely stricken with an outbreak of tuberculosis. There were many tuberculosis cases in Louisville at the time because of all the swampland, which was perfect for the tuberculosis bacteria. To try to contain the disease, a two-story wooden sanatorium was opened which consisted of an administrativemain building and two open air pavilions, each housing 20 patients, for the treatment of "early cases".

On 22 Aug 1911, all tuberculosis patients from the City Hospital were relocated to temporary quarters in tents on the grounds of Waverly Hills pending the completion of a hospital for advanced cases.

In December of 1912 a hospital for advanced cases opened for the treatment of another 50 patients. And in 1916 a childrenââ?¬â?¢s pavilion added another 40 beds making the known ââ?¬Å?capacityââ?¬Â around 130 patients. This report also mentions that the goal was to add a new building each year to continually grow so there may have even been more beds available than specifically listed. It is a common misconception that the hospital made for 40 was over packed with well over 100 patients, but this is just a miscalculation due to lack of information, with only one major exception which is mentioned above.

Due to constant need for repairs on the wooden structures, need for a more durable structure, as well as need for more beds so that people wouldn�t be turned away due to lack of space, construction of a five-story building that could hold more than 400 patients began in March 1924. The new building opened on October 17, 1926, but after the introduction of streptomycin in 1943, the number of tuberculosis cases gradually lowered, until cases of the disease were so rare, there was no need for the hospital, which was closed in June of 1961. The building was reopened in 1962 as Woodhaven Geriatrics Hospital; Woodhaven was closed in 1981 allegedly due to patient abuse.

Estimates vary wildly of how many died at Waverly. Some put the total at 63,000; however, that number is believed to be for statewide deaths. Many pertinent records have been lost or damaged.

Evidence that the worst year for death at Waverly was 152, which would make the overall death count considerably less than the legend. This information was found in the autobiography of Assistant Medical Director Dr. J. Frank W. Stewart, who states that the worst time for deaths was at the end of the Second World War when many soldiers were returning from overseas with very advanced cases.

The Prison

" Simpsonville developer J. Clifford Todd bought the old hospital in 1983 for $305,000. He and architect Milton Thompson wanted to convert it into a minimum-security prison for the state. But the developers dropped the plan after neighbors protested. Todd and Thompson then proposed converting the hospital into apartments. But they counted on Jefferson Fiscal Court to buy the about 140 acres from them for $400,000, giving them the money to start the project."

The Statue

In March of 1996, Robert Alberhasky bought Waverly Hills and the surrounding area. Alberhasky's Christ the Redeemer Foundation Inc. had plans to construct the world's tallest statue of Jesus on the Waverly site, along with an arts and worship center. The statue, which was inspired by the famed Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, would have been designed by local sculptor Ed Hamilton and architect Jasper Ward.

The first phase of the development, coming in at a cost of $4,000,000, would have been a statue 150 feet tall and 150 feet wide, situated on the roof of the sanatorium. The second phase would convert the old sanatorium into a chapel, theater, and a gift shop at a cost of $8,000,000 or more.

The plan to construct this religious icon fell through because donations to the project fell well short of expectations. In a period of a year, only $3,000 was raised towards the effort despite efforts to pool money from across the nation. The project was cancelled in December 1997.

As a result, Alberhasky abandoned the Waverly Hills property. In order to recoup some of his costs, Alberhasky attempted to have the property condemned so that it could be torn down and redeveloped. That notion was denied by the county, and Alberhasky then attempted to undermine the structural foundations of the building by bulldozing around the southern perimeter in order to receive insurance money.

The Restoration

After Alberhasky's efforts failed, Waverly Hills was sold to current owners Tina and Charlie Mattingly in 2001. Charlie's father, who died in 2005, worked as an orderly at Waverly Hills for approximately four years. The Mattinglys currently hold tours of Waverly Hills and convert the building into a haunted house attraction each Halloween. Proceeds go toward the renovation of the property.

Room 502

Located on the fifth floor of Waverly Hills, Room 502 was made infamous by local legends about two suicides that occurred in the room. In 1928, a Waverly Hills nurse, Mary Hillenburg, supposedly hanged herself from a fixture in the room after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Other stories say that she became pregnant by a doctor that was already married and the doctor performed an abortion that went wrong. When the nurse had died the doctor allegedly had staged her suicide.

The KY death index reveals that only two people by the name of "Hillenburg" have died in Kentucky. Both died significantly later than the rumored date, and in fact well after Waverly Hills closed.

While former employees of the facility seem to corroborate the hanging, none substantiate the nurse jumping from the roof. Although there are no documented deaths to these two suicides, as confirmed by the SciFi Channel series Ghost Hunters, it has not stopped those with EMF meters and other "ghost-hunting" equipment from claiming that there are spirits haunting this infamous room. These two suicides have caused many different tales to be circulated throughout the years.

The "death tunnel"

The so-called "death tunnel", made famous by ghostly tales[citation needed], is an inclined corridor that was first constructed for workers to be able to move supplies in and out of the building, but soon it was used for a different purpose. One side of the tunnel consists of concrete steps while the other is made up of a motorized rail and cable system. Since the deaths were beginning to rise, the staff decided to use the tunnel to place the bodies of the dead which were placed on gurneys and then lowered to the bottom. When they were at the bottom of the tunnel, hearses would soon arrive to pick them up.

Specific ghosts

Many hospitals and sanatoriums have their own ghostly tales, made only more infamous by shows like Ghost Hunters. Waverly Hills Sanatorium is no exception.

For instance, some ghost hunters have allegedly seen a young child bouncing a ball; they claim that at least one small, old, leather ball was found in the building during an investigation. They found the ball rolling towards them and claimed it was moved by an "unseen force." Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) recordings have supposedly featured a child saying "I'm only three years old," this claim being verified only by paranormal investigation groups that also claim they have captured sightings and audio recordings of many small children using the EVP method and digital video recorders. It has been reported that the employees at Waverly Hills buy a new ball every time they discover the old one deflated.

On the show Celebrity Paranormal Project, Hal Sparks reported seeing the ball moving with no visible force behind it. His camera caught the movement of the ball. He also claimed to have seen a shadow of a child looking at him.

Another common apparition often cited by some paranormal groups is the sighting of a young girl with no eyes. This girl is often referred to as "Mary", based on a photograph of a young woman found in the building, which was signed, "Love, Mary Lee." The girl in the photograph, however, is said to be older than the ghost's perceived age.

Yet another ghostly sighting is one of a homeless man and his dog. The two are rumored to have been found dead in a non-functioning elevator by police in the mid-1990s, when the complex was abandoned.

Other purported ghostly hauntings include an elderly woman running out of the main entrance, wrists in restraints, bleeding profusely and begging for help.

As of yet, none of these stories have been validated.

Other apparitions and activity

According to the many ghost hunters and guests that descend upon Waverly Hills, the most common paranormal activity is the phenomenon of shadow people, "moving shadows" that seemingly have substance and are able to "walk" across doorways. They are also supposedly able to block some light when a laser is pointed at them.

Areas of alleged activity include the fifth floor and roof patios, where young children often played atop a rooftop playground.

Many visitors claim to have seen glowing orbs and plasma in their photographs. Others claim that entire rooms at Waverly Hills light up at night for no apparent reason. Other sightings include various "brown imps" on the grounds.

Electronic voice phenomenon recordings have been made on the property by various ghost hunters; many claim that their EVP provides factual proof that ghosts do inhabit the old sanatorium. Recorded phrases have included "Get out" and "What kind of hospital is this?" The makers of the movie Death Tunnel and the documentary Spooked both claim that they recorded many such voices and sounds while filming. Many doubt the credibility of both production crews, however.

On the morning of Halloween 2006, local radio station WXMA 102.3 aired an annual live broadcast from the Waverly site. That year, a listener from Environmental Health Management, a local company, brought in thermal imaging equipment in hopes of capturing anything out of the normal on film. At approximately 8AM EST, two small, child-like figures are caught on film rising from a hallway floor and then disappearing into a wall.