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What is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a former hospital for tuberculosis patients located in Louisville, Kentucky. This site has a long history, and some people think that it is haunted. A stop at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a must for ghostly tours of Louisville, and numerous tours and ghost hunting expeditions are held at the site year round. Waverly Hills has also been used for various paranormal television shows in which hosts travel to sites which are supposedly haunted.

This site was originally used for a private residence in the 1800s. In the early 20th century, the tuberculosis rate in Louisville started to skyrocket. Some people have suggested that this is because the city is located in a low-lying, marshy area, but more probably the rise in tuberculosis infections had to do with a growing population. Whatever the cause, the increasing numbers of patients illustrated the need for a new tuberculosis hospital, and in 1910, a small two-story building was constructed at the site for the purpose of housing tuberculosis patients.

By the 1920s, it was clear that the tuberculosis hospital was too small, and in 1924, it was closed so that a new hospital could be built. The existing Waverly Hills Sanatorium opened for business in 1926 as a state of the art facility for tuberculosis treatment. Patients lived on site, receiving a range of treatments for the debilitating condition. With the advent of more effective treatments, the numbers of patients began to shrink, and Waverly Hills was converted to a geriatric facility in 1961. In 1981, this facility also closed, and the Waverly Hills Sanatorium was bought and sold several times, with numerous attempts being made to repurpose the facility.

Legends about the haunting of the sanatorium tend to center around the 51 years that the site was used to house tuberculosis patients. The death rate from tuberculosis can be quite high, and in its worst years, a patient died roughly every two days. Some of the treatments for tuberculosis were also quite brutal, leading people to suggest that the site was inhabited by angry ghosts. Legends swirl around a large supply tunnel, dubbed “the body chute,” and Room 502, where a patient allegedly stabbed a nurse to death. Some people claim that they experience paranormal phenomena when they enter the Waverly Hills Sanatorium and its surrounding outbuildings, and they have documented their experiences with photographs and sound recordings.

People have built on the legends about the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, adding more myths and legends as the years progress and deeming the site “the most haunted hospital in America.” Since it is difficult to empirically determine the level of haunting any particular site experiences, it would be challenging to dispute this claim. The site's most recent owners have capitalized on the legends about Waverly Hills, turning it into a tourist destination and actively encouraging the legends, rather than trying to fight the site's legacy.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseTour researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By GardenTurtle — On Oct 23, 2010

@Snowywinter: A popular legend told at Waverly Hills involves a man in a white coat. He is seen in the kitchen area and people can smell food cooking.

Most researches are drawn to the fifth floor. The room 502 is subject to many rumors. Supposedly, a nurse was found hanging in the door frame. She committed suicide because she was pregnant and she wasn’t married. In those times, that was not at all acceptable so she felt as though suicide was her only option.

Also, in certain places, if you roll a ball, the ghost children will roll it back to you.

By SnowyWinter — On Oct 23, 2010

What type of paranormal activies have they captured at Waverly Hill?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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