Waverly Hills Sanatorium

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky is a historic tuberculosis hospital that is considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in the United States by believers in the supernatural. Its history goes back nearly one hundred years and is shrouded in mystery and myth. Nevertheless the facts that are known about the Waverly Hills Sanatorium make it one of the most interesting historic buildings in the United States.

The history of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium begins with how it got its name. In 1883 and man named Major Thomas Hays bought the land the land that the Waverly Hills Sanatarium sits on today. He built a small school house there for his daughters and hired a teacher to run it. The teacher named the school Waverley School, after her favorite novelist, Scott Waverley. Major Hays subsequently named the property Waverley Hills.

Major Hays eventually sold the property; construction began on the original sanatorium on July 6, 1910. The original building was designed to fit 40-50 patients at a time. However, when tuberculosis became a major problem in the area, there were more than 140 patients in the hospital at times. A larger structure was needed and so construction began on the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, as we know it today, in March of 1924. It was open to patients in October of 1926.

Patients at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium were treated with the only methods doctors had at the time. These methods were sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes very painful, but they were the only somewhat effective treatments for tuberculosis that they had. Fresh air, sunlight, proper nutrition and sunlamps were the favored treatments. Patients were kept in sunrooms with open windows for large amounts of time, even during the winter; they even had to spend time outdoors during winter to get sun exposure. Major surgeries were also used to treat the worst cases of the disease; this involved the removal of ribs and part of or an entire lung.

Eventually tuberculosis was easily treated with antibiotics and the disease virtually disappeared from Louisville and the surrounding areas. The Waverly Hills Sanatorium was closed down in 1961. The building was renovated and reopened as a geriatric care facility, called Wood Haven Medical Services, the following year. There are many rumors regarding unethical treatment that the geriatric patients received there. However, it is hard to tell the truth from the rumors.

The hospital was completely shut down in 1980 and remained empty aside from homeless persons and vandals. When it was purchased by Charlie and Tina Mattingly, the buildings were in shambles. Graffiti marked the walls and debris littered the floors. The Mattinglys decided to renovate the old Waverly Hills Sanatorium and open it to the public. Today it is in much better shape. All of the proceeds from tours and overnight stays go into the renovation project.

For information on tours and overnight visits, go to http//:the realwaverlyhills.com/tours.htm


History, retrieved 9/12/09, threalwaverlyhills.com