For those who don’t know, Waverly Hills is considered one of the most active paranormal spots in the country. While it was operational, 63,000 people perished there. Sixty-three thousand! Teams of paranormal enthusiasts descend on Waverly Hills in droves. In fact, the spot is so popular that booking a half-night or overnight stay often needs to be done a year in advance.
My husband and I first learned about Waverly Hills Sanatorium during a Halloween segment on Ghost Hunters. Luckily, you don’t need a black van with TAPS on the side to go ghost-hunting. Any car that can take you to Louisville, Kentucky will work. Since Louisville is only 100 miles from our home, we called and inquired about doing a half-night stay. A year and a half later, we had our big night.
Our night began with an introductory film. In SyFy Channel fashion, the film portrayed the tuberculosis epidemic as a pseudo-mad scientist scenario, complete with a short narration by Linda Blair and the by-now famous clips from Ghost Hunters. After the video, we divided into groups and followed our tour guides through a door and into the Sanatorium.
The building was bare. The marble floors were swept clean, but were cracked and lined and betrayed the age of the building. The walls were covered with graffiti. The wooden doors had broken and decayed. There were often only pieces of old doorframes. There was no place to sit unless you wanted to sit on the floor, but none of us wanted to be sitting targets for prowling spirits, so we kept moving most of the time.
The guides took us through the building, floor by floor, pointing out “hot spots” for paranormal activity and telling us some of the folklore behind the ghost sightings. There was Timmy, for instance; a spectral of a 6-year-old boy who liked to play with a ball.
There had also been sightings of a tall man and a dog on the 3rd floor. It was later learned that a homeless man and his dog had camped out in the abandoned building and were killed in the elevator there. Though we wanted to see something while we were at Waverly, we weren’t really sure we wanted to run across the ghost of a homeless man and his dog wandering the quickly-darkening halls of the 3rd floor.
The first floor didn’t have any named spirits attached to it, but it was eerie just the same. This floor housed the morgue, with creaking metal tables where the bodies once laid. Nearby was the electroshock therapy room, which was now covered with gruesome graffiti; the kind that came from disturbed minds.
Next we saw the elevator that carried the corpses down to the death chute outside. With a death nearly every hour, the staff didn’t want the patients to see hearses constantly pulling up outside, so they devised a covered path out to a death chute where bodies were loaded into a wagon and lowered 435 feet down a hill to hearses waiting below. We walked down the death chute and expected to be chilled, but we didn’t get any vibes at all. It wasn’t much different than walking down into a cave.
One of the most notorious hot spots was located on the 5th floor. Here we found room #502, with the numerals still nailed above the doorframe. The guide warned us that many people felt strange sensations when they entered the room. Some experienced immediate headaches. Others felt nauseated or dizzy. Usually these were pregnant women who might not have even realized yet that they were pregnant, but found themselves susceptible to the disturbed aura of a nurse who hung herself from the rafters in front of the room. History states that this nurse carried an illegitimate baby. And that an infant was found in a nearby well.
Story has it that another nurse also jumped to her death from the window off room #502. And the 5th floor is where children played on a rooftop playground. Shadow figures have been reported on this floor.
But it was the 4th floor that really felt creepy. We could barely bring ourselves to wander down the halls of that floor. Every time we peered down the dark, black hall, we felt like we could see shadows moving where there shouldn’t be shadows at all.
At one point, as I climbed down a dark stairwell, I had to stop and ask myself: what we were doing? Were we really roaming the haunted halls of a tuberculosis sanatorium at 3:00am looking for ghosts? Reality set in. What would we do if we saw a ghost?
One thing was for sure: we weren’t about to become ghost hunters anytime soon. We imagined so many eerie scenarios that we scared ourselves more than any spectral being could have. Or did we?
Stay tuned for the ‘Reveal’ on Wednesday to find out what happened to us that night.