Inside The Haunted Halls Of Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Though its doors have been closed to patients for more than half a century, it seems not all the occupants have left.

July 28, 2021
Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky

Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky

From 1910 to 1962, Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville housed thousands of tuberculosis patients; the facility was so vast that it had its own ZIP code, post office and water treatment facility.

Photo by: The Real Waverly Hills Sanatorium

The Real Waverly Hills Sanatorium

From 1910 to 1962, Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville housed thousands of tuberculosis patients; the facility was so vast that it had its own ZIP code, post office and water treatment facility.

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In the early 1900s, Kentucky’s hospitals were at a breaking point. The warm, wet weather was the perfect breeding ground for tuberculosis, an airborne, bacterial disease that ate away at a patient’s lung tissue and had caused roughly 25% of all deaths in the United States by the end of the 1800s.

Waverly Hills Sanitorium went from a two-story wooden structure to a sprawling five-story facility to treat the increased number of patients.

The sanitorium opened in the midst of a widespread epidemic

It was within this devastating context that the Waverly Hills Sanitorium first opened its doors on July 26, 1910, as a two-story wooden structure built to house about 50 patients. By October of 1926, the hospital had expanded to its current 400-hundred-bed capacity to accommodate a continual influx of patients.

Because of the highly contagious nature of the disease, extreme quarantine measures were required for patients and staff alike, meaning Waverly Hills had to function as an island unto itself. The self-sufficient facility produced its own food, raised animals, and ran a functioning post office.

It also featured a 500-foot-long tunnel that spanned from the first floor of the building to the bottom of the hill. Supplies could be brought in from the bottom, and the countless bodies of deceased patients were discreetly removed from the top.

In 2010, Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin of Ghost Adventures captured EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recordings. Their investigation also produced video evidence of a shadowy figure emerging from one of the rooms.

Brutal treatments for an unforgiving disease

24th January 1933: Patients crippled by tuberculosis are treated outdoors in the snow at the Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital in Nottinghamshire. Whatever the weather, they spend their days lying on iron bedsteads in the open air, as a 'curative' measure. [Photo by Harry Shepherd/Fox Photos/Getty Images]

24th January 1933: Patients crippled by tuberculosis are treated outdoors in the snow at the Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital in Nottinghamshire. Whatever the weather, they spend their days lying on iron bedsteads in the open air, as a 'curative' measure. [Photo by Harry Shepherd/Fox Photos/Getty Images]

Prior to the development of a vaccine, treatments for tuberculosis ran the gamut from unobtrusive to barbaric. Physicians often prescribed rest, fresh air, and sunlight. These curative measures were often carried out in all seasons, including the depths of winter. Other approaches were more markedly brutal. In some cases, patients had their lungs surgically resected (partially removed) or collapsed in order to let the organ “rest".

With the introduction of a vaccine, case numbers plummeted, and in 1961 the sanitorium was officially closed. However, it seems the pain and suffering of so many souls has left a permanent mark upon the site. There’s a reason Waverly Hills is regularly placed on paranormal lists worldwide.

Amy Bruni and Adam Berry of Kindred Spirits investigate the 5th floor after the owner expressed concerns over a new entity. [screenshot via Discovery Inc.]

Amy Bruni and Adam Berry of Kindred Spirits investigate the 5th floor after the owner expressed concerns over a new entity. [screenshot via Discovery Inc.]

When Amy Bruni and Adam Berry of Kindred Spirits made their first visit, they recalled being struck by the powerful desperation they felt in the nurses’ wing. They returned in 2019 to try and resolve that energy, only to be met with something much more menacing.

A reputation as one of the world’s most haunted places

Prior to its designation on the National Register of Historic Places, Waverly Hills had been left to decay. The abandoned hospital gained notoriety as a popular ghost hunting spot for local teens and lovers of the paranormal. It did not disappoint. Countless stories emerged of shadow people and ghostly children, cementing the building’s sinister reputation.

In 2001, Charles and Tina Mattingly purchased the property and began its restoration. Volunteers soon had their own encounters to add to the growing lore of Waverly Hills. Many reported unexplained slamming doors and sightings of a mysterious man in white drifting throughout the corridors. Others had run-ins with Timmy, a spectral boy who roams the hallways and likes to play ball. When the facility officially opened to the public for tours, visitors continued to corroborate these experiences.

The notorious hospital has attracted the interest of professional paranormal investigators from across the country.

Though its doors have been closed to patients for more than half a century, it seems not all the occupants have left the Waverly Hill Sanitorium. Join the Destination Fear team as they confront their fears and search for evidence of the hospital’s most notorious residents on the Season 3 premiere, now streaming on discovery+.

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