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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