Due to this post from Roni Loren (thank you for the warning, Roni) I’ve decided to remove most photos from Thriller Thursday. I hope you’re still able to enjoy them!
More than a hundred years ago, consumption was a dreaded term. The diagnosis was nearly as disheartening as hearing “you’ve got cancer” today. Fatigue was often the first sign, followed by weight loss, fever, lack of appetite, and the persistent and eventually bloody cough.
Tuberculosis wasn’t entirely understood at the turn-of-century. It was romanticized at times because the victim didn’t die in a splatter of blood and glory, but rather faded away.
Although easily curable today, Tuberculosis ran rampant throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Doctors often prescribed fresh, dry air (this is why Doc Holliday headed West) to help the lungs grow stronger. In 1910, a small, tw0-story Tuberculosis hospital opened in Louisville Kentucky. It quickly became overrun with sick patients and expanded to a mammoth facility in 1924. Considered one of the most modern in the world, the new structure was able to house more than 400 patients.
Waverly Hills Sanitorium is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Louisville Ghost Hunters Societyhas conducted many investigations on the premises, and their results are terrifying. They’ve heard ghostly sounds, spotted lights that couldn’t be on, had objects hurled at them, been struck by unseen hands, and have spotted apparitions.
In a building where unimaginable suffering occurred for decades, it’s no wonder the paranormal activity is intense.
In addition to the fresh air treatment (patients were subjected to this even in the winter. TB sufferers are said to be the reason heating blankets were invented), numerous experimental procedures were introduced. Pneumothorax (surgically collapsing a portion of the lung so it heals) and thoracoplasty (opening up the chest and removing up to 3 ribs at a time so the lung would have more room to expand and heal) were two of the most popular. Fewer than five percent survived the pneumothorax attempts. Patients were also exposed to ultraviolet light in an effort to stop the spread of bacteria.
Historians believe between 40,000 and 60,000 people died in Waverly Hills Sanitarium—some from the disease and many others from experimental procedures.
So many perished at Waverly that a tunnel was dug from the lower level of the hospital out out to a field away from the main section of the hospital. Kept out of sight from the living patients, the “body chute” was a sad and busy place. Some accounts claim more than forty bodies per day were sent down the chute during the highpoint of the TB siege. A motorized wench system guided the bodies down the tunnel while hearses lined up at the end and staff wheeled the dead away.
There’s no electricity in the body chute. Imagine pitch darkness with only flashlights to guide you, much like the Las Vegas Tunnels featured in Into The Dark. The chute is reported to be on of the most haunted areas of the Sanitorium. Voices have been captured on tape (EVPS), as well as unexplainable mists, cold spots, and apparitions.
This video is long, but it’s a visitor’s experience in the spooky body chute at Waverly Hills.
The body chute is far from being the only haunted spot at Waverly.
A man in a white coat has been seen walking in the kitchen, and the smell of cooking often wafts through the room. These instances occurred long before any renovations took place, when the kitchen was in ruins: broken windows, fallen plaster, puddles of water, and debris from the leaking roof.
The third floor is known to be incredibly active. A ball is often heard and sometimes seen bouncing down the hall or stairs. Ghosts of both a little girl (with no eyes) and a little boy have been seen. The boy’s ghost has been nicknamed Timmy, and many visitors have had encounters with him.
In this video, ball is thrown at paranormal investigators during a live investigation in September, 28. The ball appears at about a minute into the video. There are numerous videos of investigators encountering the ball on You Tube.
The fifth floor of the hospital is a magnet for ghost hunters. It’s believed that mentally insane TB patients were housed on the fifth floor, far away from others but still able to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Patients were isolated on either side of the nurse’s station.
Room 502 rivals the body chute for most haunted area of the Sanitorium. Legend says that in 1928, a nurse was found hanging from the light fixture. Many believed she’d committed suicide because she was unmarried and pregnant.
A second (alleged) suicide of another nurse occurred in 1932. She jumped from the balcony for unknown reasons.
Apparitions of a female nurse in white have been seen by numerous visitors, and disembodied voices have been caught on tape.
Waverly’s fourth flour is known for its shadow people—unexplainable moving objects with an eerie human like quality. Most skeptics have ruled out the headlight theory, as the Sanitorium sits on top of a hill.
At about :10 into this video, Jay and Grant from TAPS encounter the shadows with their thermal camera.
People have reported seeing lights on in the building at night although there was no electricity and no glass to reflect light. A guard claimed to have seen the flicker of a television from a room on the third floor. Children have been heard playing on the roof—the spot where they were taken for “heliotherapy” during their time at Waverly. A hearse has been spotted in the back of the building dropping off coffins, and a woman with bleeding wrists has been seen (and heard) crying for help. Slamming doors and loud footsteps in the empty building are a common occurrence.
Tuberculosis patients aren’t the only ones said to have suffered at Waverly Hills. Streptomycin was discovered in 1943, and the antibiotic began to rid the population of the disease. The hospital closed in 1961 but was reopened as the Woodhaven Geriatrics Sanitarium a year later. Electroshock therapy—believed to be effective during the time period—was widely used. Budget cuts in the led to filthy conditions and mistreatment, and Kentucky closed the facility in 1982 due to patient abuse.
Waverly Hills is among the most legendary places in the country, and the past decade has seen the landmark go through a large renovation. While still maintaining it’s creepy authenticity, the owners have perserved the building for ghost hunters and history buffs alike.
The Sanitorium is now owned by Charlie and Tina Mattingly. Tours are offered through their site. Waverly has long been at the top of my list to visit, but this is an experience not for the faint of heart.
Do you have the guts to go into the black body chute or play ball with Timmy on the third floor?