Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

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    Waverly Hills is said to be one of America’s most known haunted places.
     
    During the 1800s and early 1900s, America was ravaged by a deadly disease known by many as the “white death” otherwise known as tuberculosis. This was a terrifying and very contagious plague, for which no cure existed; it claimed entire families and sometimes entire towns.
     
    In 1900, Louisville, Kentucky had one of the highest tuberculosis death rates in America. Built on low, swampland, the area was the perfect breeding ground for disease and in 1910; a hospital was constructed on a windswept hill in southern Jefferson County that had been designed to combat the horrific disease. The hospital quickly became overcrowded though and with donations of money and land, a new hospital was started in 1924. 
     
    The massive gothic style sanatorium still stands on Waverly Hill today. This sanatorium could accommodate at least 400 patients. It was considered to be one of the most modern and well equipped facilities when it opened. Construction of this sanatorium began in March of 1924. It opened on October 17, 1926 to administer patients. Waverly functioned as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961. 
     
    In many cases, the treatments for the disease were just as terrible as the disease itself. Some of the experiments that were conducted in search of a cure seem barbaric by today’s standards but others are now common practice. Patient’s lungs were exposed to ultraviolet light to try and stop the spread of bacteria. This was done in “sun rooms”, using artificial light in place of sunlight, or on the roof or open porches of the hospital. Since fresh air was thought to also be a possible cure, patients were often placed in front of huge windows or on the open porches, no matter what the season. Old photographs show patients lounging in chairs, taking in the fresh air, while literally covered with snow.
     
    There were other more horrible treatments done to patients such as, Doctors would have balloons surgically implanted in the lungs and then filled with air to expand them. Needless to say, this often had disastrous results, as did operations where muscles and ribs were removed from a patient’s chest to allow the lungs to expand further and let in more oxygen. This blood-soaked procedure was said to be used as a “last resort” and very few of the patients survived it. Thousands died at Waverly Hills before antibiotics were discovered in 1943, some say as many as 10,000 died in the first 3 yrs the hospital was open.  
     
    Waverly Hills has been attracting paranormal teams for years; researchers are always drawn to the fifth floor of the former hospital. During its operation the fifth floor consisted of two nurses’ stations, a pantry, a linen room, medicine room and two medium-sized rooms on both sides of the two nurses’ stations. One of these rooms was room 502, is the subject of many rumors and legends and just about every curiosity-seeker that had broken into Waverly Hills over the years wanted to see it. This is where, according to the stories, people have jumped to their deaths, have seen shapes moving in the windows and have heard disembodied voices that order trespassers to “get out”.
     
    Some of the legends of the fifth floor are…In 1928, the head nurse in Room 502 was found dead in Room 502. She had committed suicide by hanging herself from the light fixture. She was 29 years-old at the time of her death and allegedly, unmarried and pregnant. Her depression over the situation led her to take her own life. Its unknown how long she may have been hanging in this room before her body was discovered.  And this would not be the only tragedy to occur in this room.
     
    Another is that in 1932, another nurse who worked in Room 502 was said to have jumped from the roof patio and plunged several stories to her death. No one seems to know why she would have done this but many have speculated that she may have actually have been pushed over the edge. There are no records to indicate this but rumors continue to persist.
     
    The Death Tunnel is another popular haunted area. One of the uses for this tunnel was transporting dead bodies out of the hospital. Since seeing hearses arrive and take away many bodies on a daily basis would bring down other patients’ morale, the hospital staff thought it was best to transport the bodies away in an underground tunnel that the patients couldn’t see. Some people believe that many of the deceased patients who left the hospital via this tunnel still haunt it. 
     
     

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