Waverly Hills Kentucky may be well known but not a lot of people are aware of the story behind it. It is home to one of the most well known Tuberculosis hospitals in Kentucky but what you may not realize is that some of the practices while necessary were very unorthodox and painful. Many of you may realize that it is now used as a haunted house but you may not know that is could actually be haunted. Hopefully as you read through these web texts you will see that Waverly Hills is much more than meets the eye.
Project II Waverly Hills
By: Molly Preston
I would like to start out by saying that I in no way believe in ghosts, I have never seen one and I am not entirely convinced of their existence. Oh and don’t worry by the end of this essay I will not have some amazing epiphany that leads me to the realization that ghost in fact are real and that I was wrong all along. This piece is not really about that; it is simply conveying what I have learned about Waverly Hills through research, interview, and analysis.
I looked into some of the ghost stories and legends about Waverly Hills when it was a treatment center for tuberculosis and after it was converted to a sanatorium. While most of the stories I will depict tend to be fictional in nature, some of the people they are about are in fact real people who died in or near Waverly Hills.
I would like to start out by talking about room 502 it is considered one of the most controversial rooms in Waverly Hills. As I Was researching this room I found that most of the accounts of what happened there were very similar if not the same. According to most legends; in 1928 a twenty nine year old nurse committed suicide, by hanging herself with the light fixture in this room. It is believed that she was pregnant out of wedlock and suffered from depression. Four years later another nurse working in room 502 is believed to have jumped from the window to her death the reason she chose to do this remains unknown. According to Troy Taylor of Dark Haven entertainment it is a popular legend that room 502 is said to cause a feeling of great despair or uneasiness. Tourists and visitors to this day claim to hear voices coming from this room yelling at them to leave, they also report a sense of nausea or weariness when on the fifth floor. As I looked further into the odd events that took place in this room I discovered that there was no real proof of the two suicides. So I began to wonder, was this just another ghost story made up by some supposed paranormal expert to make money, or could it be that the suicides were covered up as a part of some grand conspiracy theory. I was unable to find any conclusive evidence to support any of my theories so as I let go of my wild imagination I decided to look into some of the other hauntings at Waverly Hills.
Above in figure 1 is a picture of room 502 after it has been vandalized by many trespassers but it still maintains a relative creepiness or uneasiness about it if you would like to delve deeper into this topic I recommend this site: http://www.prairieghosts.com/waverly_tb.html
My next area of intrigue was the fourth floor, which is where most visitors have claimed to see paranormal activity or ghosts. On this floor it is very common to hear footsteps and the slamming of doors. One of the night guards even claims to have seen a floating head, he was so frightened by his experience that he quit his job and has never since returned to Waverly Hills. Multiple visitors have claimed to see the silhouette of a man in a long white coat walking across the doorway and then vanishing into thin air. He was believed to be a doctor who worked at the hospital and contracted the Tuberculosis disease.
Above in figure 2 if you consider yourself to be a believer and you look closely you might just barely be able to make out the outline of a shadow figure which represents the doctor. “The sighting only lasted a few seconds but I knew what I had seen” (Taylor par. 6). Paranormal researcher Troy Taylor Visited Waverly Hills and out of all of the “haunted” places he has visited it is the only place that he himself actually deems as haunted. I found that to be very interesting because as someone who does not believe in the existence of the paranormal, I assumed that someone who did believe would have found many more examples of ghosts and figures to prove their point. I think it is kind of refreshing that a “ghost hunter” doesn’t find the presence of ghosts everywhere he goes. While this does nothing to change my opinion I do believe it makes him a more credible source. For more information about Troy Taylor or his research please visit: http://www.prairieghosts.com/waverly_tb.html . In the early 1990’s there was not any security in Waverly Hills and this often lead to a lot of trespassing and vandalism. During this time many homeless people took refuge in the old sanatorium especially in the wintertime. I almost overlooked this when researching for ghost stories but something about this interested me and I allowed myself to get sidetracked and more deeply investigated this issue. What I found was surprisingly relevant to my topic so in order to make this ghost story more significant I am going to go a little bit into the backstory. One night two teenage boys were roaming the property of Waverly Hills; they had planned to vandalize the place in the name of Satan, as they were avid devil worshipers. Upon entering the Sanatorium they came across a homeless man using the Sanatorium as a shelter, they proceeded to brutally murder him for the sake of the devil. Afterwards they threw his body from the fourth floor to the bottom of the elevator shaft. It is said that his soul now haunts the old elevator shaft and many groups of tourists that have come in for private tours claim that objects have been thrown at them while walking past the elevator; most commonly a brick. Please don’t take this too lightly while some of the details may have been a little embellished for the sake of a good story, a real homeless man was murdered in Waverly Hills by two teenage boys. Whether or not his “ghost” actually haunts the elevator, or if the boys really did worship Satan is unknown because there is no real definitive evidence to prove it.
Above in figure 3 is a picture of the elevator shaft where the homeless mans body was found. If you would like to know more about this story or anything pertaining to the elevator shaft please visit: http://www.trueghosttales.com/stories/waverly-hills-sanitarium.php
A more violent ghost that is sometimes seen by tourists is a small figure called the creeper it appears as a mask floating on the fourth floor. According to the owners if you see this figure beginning to “climb” the wall you must immediately leave the fourth floor because this is a violent spirit and it can and will hurt you. I can’t help but laugh about this one I simply cannot fathom a small shadow figure being able to cause harm to me, and that would be assuming that I believed that such a figure existed which I do not.
On a more positive note one of the ghosts that is said to haunt the fifth floor has never actually been seen but is very playful and friendly. The only way that he makes his presence known is by playing with or moving one or all of the three bouncy balls found lying around the Sanatorium. He is known by the name Timmy and according to Mrs. Gatton if you are very quiet and watch the balls for long enough you will be able to see them roll from one side of the room to another with out anyone touching them. When she first told me this my first reaction was to laugh, I thought she was joking but I decided to do a little bit more investigating. I found a video online that showed the events exactly as she had told me; I was convinced that there had to be some kind of trick involved because that was just not possible. Although still not quite a believer I found myself to be a little less skeptical than before. The final Ghostly account of the fourth floor is about a little girl named Mary Lee. She was the daughter of a doctor working in the Waverly Hills hospital and while there contracted Tuberculosis, she eventually died of the disease. Many visitors claim to see the “friendly” figure of a girl wandering around on the fourth floor and it is believed that the girl is Mary coming back to cheer up the patients. While living she was said to be a kind and gentle little girl and would talk to and spend time with some of the Tuberculosis patients to help keep their spirits up.
Another way that the doctors and nurses tried to keep up the moral of their patients was the body chute also known as the body tunnel. The body chute was and underground rail car system used to transport the bodies of the deceased from the hospital to the awaiting hearses. They did this so that the other patients would not realize how many of them were dying; the doctors believed that having a positive outlook helped the patients get better. Many paranormal researchers believe that many of the souls of the dead that were transported through the body chute are stuck inside. Quite often tourists that are brave enough to go down into the body chute claim to see a floating woman with blood and chains around her wrists. According to Dark Haven Entertainment this is symbolic of the lost spirits being trapped in the body chute unable to find their way out. If you visit the body chute you might also hear the voices of ghosts crying out for help or even spot another shadow figure lurking around. I was unable to visit the body chute in actuality so I cannot definitively say whether such occurrences are simply from the imagination of a few paranoid individuals or if the voices are merely the wind but I do know that on the virtual tour I didn’t have any ghost sightings.
Above in figure 4 if you look at the smaller box in the top right corner you can see the figure of the woman in chains. This picture was taken from a reliable source but that does not necessarily meant that it is real I still take this to be a product of Photoshop but it is still a pretty neat photo of the body chute and some of its tourists. If you would like to know more about the body chute feel free to check out: http://www.therealwaverlyhills.com/bodychute/
The last story I have to tell is nothing short of interesting, it begins with a group of vandals who thought it would be a good idea to break into Waverly Hills. They were carrying axes and spray paint, as they were walking around on the third floor they heard a noise coming from inside one of the rooms. They quickly dropped their axes and spray paint and ran into the room to investigate, once they were inside the room the door shut behind them. When they attempted to open it the door locked and fought and yelled and struggled attempting to open the door but to no avail they remained trapped. It was not until a night guard making his rounds came by and heard them in the room, when he reached to open the door it was unlocked and the terrified vandals swiftly fled the building leaving behind their tools of destruction. Although this story is only subject to legend and has no real evidence to support it many people who visit Waverly Hills have no trouble believing that it’s true. I attribute this to the fact that those very same people also claim to hear the sounds of axes chopping at the wooden door of the room that the Vandals were supposedly trapped in. While I am not so sure that I really believe this in its entirety, when I took a virtual tour of Waverly Hills the room on the third floor had markings on the door that looked like they could be from and axe. This could have occurred from many circumstances and the truth of what happened in this room may never be known.
Well there you have it, while my opinion on the existence of ghosts has not changed I don’t believe that they do incase you needed a quick reminder but some of my assumptions about ghosts and hauntings were wrong. I always thought that people who did believe in ghosts were just crazy and probably needed to start back on their medication again. This is not the case, there are so many normal people just like you and me who believe in ghosts and actually claim to have seen them. It is just like another preference more than a belief and there is nothing wrong with believing in paranormal activity it is just the same as having different political views. I mean you would not hate your neighbor just because they are a democrat and you are a republican, well at least I hope not. If there is anything to be learned from this it is to respect the beliefs of others because sometimes what they believe is not so weird after all.
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Hunters Society, 13 Dec 2011. Web. 29 Oct 2011
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2010. Web. 21 Nov 2011
The History of Waverly Hills Sanatorium
By: Lindsey Woods
Every year, people go to haunted houses throughout the country. Some places claim that they’re place is truly haunted, but do you believe them? If you do, then do you know what all happened in that place to make it really haunted? Waverly Hills Sanatorium is an under known old hospital in Louisville, Kentucky that is actually haunted. Most people, if they know about it at all, don’t know the true facts about it. Throughout this I will tell you all about the History of Waverly as a Tuberculosis hospital, what Tuberculosis is and how it is different today than it was in the early 1900’s,what life at Waverly was like for both patients and the doctors and how Waverly was similar or differed from other Tuberculosis hospitals at the time.
According to Therealwaverlyhills.com, in 1833, Thomas H. Hayes bought the land for him and his family. He needed a school for his daughters to go to so he built a one room school house and hired a woman named Lizzy Lee Harris to teach them. Lizzy Lee Harris decided to name the school “Waverly School” because of her love for the Waverly novels. Hayes liked the name she came up with so he named all of his land Waverly Hill. When he sold his land to the Tuberculosis Hospital owners, they also liked the name because it sounded “peaceful”, so they decided to keep it.
The Hospital started being built in 1908 and was finished and ready to be opened by 1910. Apparently at this time they did not anticipate having very many Tuberculosis patients because this was a small hospital that could only hold about 40 to 50 patients. By 1926 Tuberculosis was such an epidemic (referred to as the White Plague) that the hospital was at some points over 100 people over capacity. This was causing them to kick people out of the hospital or just being over populated and not being able to give all of the patients the attention they needed to recover. This concern caused them to expand their hospital. The new hospital was a two story building that could hold at least 400 people.
Waverly continued as a Tuberculosis hospital until 1961. After antibiotics were created to heal these patients, the hospital was shut down. The building was later renovated into Woodhaven Medical Services until 1980 when it was forced to close by the state. This was the end of Waverly as a hospital.
So you might be wondering, what is Tuberculosis? I had always heard of this disease, but never personally knew what it really was. According to Medicinenet.com, Tuberculosis is a disease that mainly affects the lungs but can actually affect almost any part of your body. In less common cases, Tuberculosis can also spread to almost any other organ in the body including your kidneys, the lining of your brain and your spinal cord. This usually only happens if your immune system is very weak. When you get Tuberculosis you can sometimes figure it out on your own by looking for certain symptoms. Some of the signs that you have Tuberculosis are if you get a lung infection (pneumonia), if your lymph nodes will become very swollen, if you have a cough for a long period of time, if you have a very bad fever, or if you have been experiencing extreme weight loss. If you think you have the possibility of having Tuberculosis then you should see a doctor immediately to get tested since it is a very dangerous and deadly disease.
So how do you catch this disease? Tuberculosis is an airborne disease so if you are around someone who has it, you have a chance of catching it. If someone that has Tuberculosis coughs, sneezes, spits, or yells then you could possibly breathe the bacteria into your lungs. This is why Tuberculosis became such an epidemic and why people with Tuberculosis had to be isolated in these sanatoriums away from the rest of society, because it was so easily spread. There was also another way you could get Tuberculosis. This was by drinking unpasteurized milk. This milk caused many children and adults to end up with Tuberculosis back in the 1900’s. This was a less common way and not common at all today, but is how many children got this disease.
In the 1900’s there was no real medicine to cure Tuberculosis, which caused many of the patients to die. At Waverly they tried their best to keep these victims alive and well but sometimes it was close to impossible. They used many different methods to try to get the patients to recover, the main ones being keeping them in fresh air, exposed to sunlight, and on a good diet. The patients were put on bed rest out by windows that were only screened in like what is shown in the picture below. This let fresh air in so that any germs or bacteria could go outside instead of staying in the hospital air and helped their bodies get rid of the disease. The patients would sit by these windows no matter what the weather was like or how cold it was. Electric blankets were created strictly for this purpose in asylums.
For people with worse cases of Tuberculosis, they sometimes had to resort to surgeries such as Pneumothorax and Thoracoplasty. Thoracoplasty is a surgery which removes some of your rib cage, usually about 7 or 8 ribs. Most doctors would only remove about 2-3 ribs at a time for safety reasons, so these patients would have to go through surgeries multiple times. Sometimes after doing this, they would have to cut off part of the lung if it was diseased. This part was called the Lobectomy. Pneumothorax was a treatment in which you deflated part of the lung so that it could heal itself and potentially close off any holes that were caused by the disease. You also have to think about the fact that during this time, there was no way of numbing the patients or using anesthesia. The patients were feeling everything during these surgeries and had to be in excruciating pain. I personally don’t know if I would have rather gone
through the surgeries or just tried my best to make it through the terrible disease without it.
Another treatment used was called Heliotherapy. This is when you give the patients natural ultraviolet treatment from the sun. Patients would sit outside, usually on the roof, in the sunlight for hours. If outside long enough, it could kill some of the bacteria that causes the disease. If it was not sunny outside or too cold, then they could use sunlamps in replacement. The sunlamps would basically be like standing by today’s tanning beds for hours as treatment. Many times they would use this treatment for children which seemed to help them along with the adults in this treatment get better.
Today, treatments for Tuberculosis are much different than they were back then. Obviously back then they didn’t have actual medicine to treat the patients with. Really, their only hope was to try to get the bacteria out of your body or go through the painful surgeries, which was why so many people died from this. Today, there are actual treatments to give people who acquire this disease so that they can recover and still end up living a normal life. Even though we do have medicines, that doesn’t mean that this disease is not something to worry about. This is still one of the top killing diseases in the world and according to DoctorsWithoutBorder.com, “Each year, nearly nine million people worldwide contract the illness; two million die from it”. Some of these medicines to treat Tuberculosis patients include Ethambutol, rifampican, and isoniazid. Before getting these treatments, people have to go through certain procedures to try to find out which medicine would work best for them and hopefully make it easiest for them to get cured.
According to Treatment of Tuberculosis Guidelines Fourth Edition, when you find out you get Tuberculosis you need to do a couple things. One thing is to first get tested for HIV. If there is any chance that you could possibly have Tuberculosis, then it is highly recommended for you to get tested for HIV. If you do have HIV then it can change the way you get treated and what all you need to do to make sure your treatment works right. If your HIV test comes back positive, then you need to have a drug susceptibility test. All patients can get this, but it is always recommended for patients that also have HIV. This is because if you have HIV then you cannot have the same treatments as people that do not have HIV. Most people that are HIV positive are on a treatment called co-trimoxazole. Another thing a lot of new Tuberculosis patients need to do is to take an Isoniazid susceptibility test. A lot of patients are susceptible to this drug so it is important for doctors to know if you are before they start you on a treatment so that you can get better instead of worse.
When going through treatments, which are usually six to eight month time periods, new patients can usually, only handle treatment once a week. Just like with any other disease, these treatments can be hard on your body and it takes a while for you to adapt to it. Later on in your treatment you will be able to handle sometimes 3 treatments a week. This is sometimes necessary to make sure you get the proper care. For the people with HIV, their treatments make it necessary for them to have daily treatments and are an extreme challenge. The people with Tuberculosis and HIV have a much higher rate of not surviving through the treatment. Also during your Tuberculosis treatments, it is very important that you are very closely monitored at all times. In fact, in The Treatment of Tuberculosis Guidelines Fourth Edition, patients in treatment are required to have a treatment supporter to take care of the patients needs at all times. If the patients are not watched carefully enough throughout their treatment then they can easily relapse after treatment. If you do relapse then you are usually sent to have an eight month treatment regimen. Obviously most people are going to try their best and hope that their treatment will work the first time so they do not have to go through it again for an eight month time period.
These doctors, nurses, and patients all go through strenuous activities to get the patients healthy again. With the medicines we have today, Tuberculosis would have been a lot less common due to the easy treatments. But along with that, if they had all of these treatments then a lot of the lives would have been saved so would their still be “ghosts” in Waverly Hills today?
At Waverly, not only did the patients live in these sanatoriums, but the doctors and nurses did too. Many people say that the doctors mistreated the patients in Waverly but from my research, I have a hard time believing that that is true. These doctors had to be extremely dedicated to their jobs to work here. They lived in dorms on the land of the sanatorium and could not leave for months at a time. This means that they could not see any of their friends or family for all that time because of their jobs. Not to mention the fact that they are risking their lives by being around and taking care of these deathly sick patients every day. Since this disease is airborne, the doctors and nurses could easily catch the disease and need to become patients themselves. Below is a picture of some of the staff that worked and lived at Waverly.
Other hospitals in the early 1900’s were similar to Waverly as a hospital. There was one Tuberculosis hospital still standing in Indiana called The Boehne Hospital. This was also a hospital that treated Tuberculosis patients in many similar ways that Waverly did. “The main way these hospitals helped to cure people was to let them relax and breathe fresh country air” (Bohene Camp). This was very similar to the treatment at Waverly to keep the patients in fresh air as much as possible to try to eliminate the bacteria from their bodies. What I found out that was interesting was that this hospital did not always have very much money because John Boehne, the creator of this hospital was basically paying for it on his own. At the beginning, it was known as Boehne camp and was actually a tent colony. I think that this really shows the dedication of all of the people working for this hospital/camp since they were willing to live in tents outside to take care of all of the sick patients dying of Tuberculosis. Eventually they got enough money to build a hospital, but still stuck to the technique of fresh air for the removal of bacteria. Another similarity that the Boehne Hospital had with Waverly was the fact that they did similar surgeries. Although I have not seen anything about the Boehne Hospital performing Pneumothorax, according to RecreationalTrespasser.com, doctors did perform treatments surgeries such as Thoracoplasty and Lobectomy’s. Also like Waverly, after antibiotics for Tuberculosis were created, the hospital closed in 1967. Although there were some differences in the two hospitals, there were also many similarities. This shows that all of the Tuberculosis hospitals at the time saw how much of an epidemic and danger Tuberculosis was and how dedicated to helping these patients they were. Without hospitals like the Boehne hospital and Waverly Hills, Tuberculosis would have ended many more lives.
Waverly overall was a hospital that took care of the thousands of people who had tuberculosis throughout the 1900’s. Many of these patients died due to lack of good medicines to treat them with but the doctors and other workers of Waverly did their best to take care of these patients and get them healthy to their best ability. Many people say that due to all of these deaths, that Waverly really is haunted and filled with ghosts of patients and even some nurses. Is this really true? I guess that is up to your own personal opinions and beliefs but I think that there were definitely enough deaths in this building to make it a possibility.
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