Does it really have a “body chute?” Did 100,000 people die in this hospital? Questions are plentiful when it comes to the Waverley Hills Sanatorium, but the urban legends are more colorful than the history.
Many paranormal shows on television have covered the infamous Waverly Hills. It has been featured 3 times on Syfy’s Ghost Hunters. It has been featured on ABC’s Scariest Places on Earth, VH1’s Celebrity Paranormal Project, Most Haunted, the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, and has been used in movies like Death Tunnel.
Waverley Hills Sanatorium officially opened as a hospital in 1910. “Sanatorium” is a tuberculosis hospital, often confused with “sanitarium,” which is a mental hospital.
Waverly is located in Jefferson County, Kentucky. This portion of the state has extensive swampland, a serious danger when it came to the spread of disease. A tuberculosis epidemic hit in the late 1800s and continually ravaged residents. A house once known as Edgewood stood on the grounds when the land was purchased in 1908. A wooden, 2-story building was erected for patients.
Louisville looked for a more suitable place for the growing number of patients by 1911. Small additions were constructed as needed, but they just weren’t capable of properly treating the ill. Construction began on the massive brick structure in 1924. The five-story giant we know as Waverley opened in 1926.
Here are the most popular legends:
Room 502 is haunted by an evil force. Years ago, a nurse found out she was pregnant by the sanatorium’s owner. To make matters worse, she then discovered she was infected with tuberculosis and was placed in room 502. She hanged herself with a light bulb wire right outside the door. Years later, another nurse went into the room. No one knows what happened, but she ran from room 502 to the rooftop. She plunged to her death.
A while after, another nurse visited the room. For no reason, she slashed her wrists and fled the building. She left a thick trail of blood out through the lobby and died just outside the entrance.
After the hospital closed, a homeless man took up residence in the structure. For some reason, he chose 502 as his sanctuary. A gang found out he was living there and found him. They murdered him in the room during a drug-crazed satanic ritual.
Waverley History Explored:
Many visitors claim they’ve witnessed paranormal activity at Waverley Hills. This article is not to refute the paranormal, but to explore the facts behind the lore. Room 502 is said to be particularly active by many today. Some visitors have reported symptoms of illness and physical attacks from whatever roams the building. Still, no documentation can be found to support the events in the stories. Kentucky has a well documented past with a number of newspapers and periodicals going back through the Nineteenth Century. No information on suicides or murders at Waverley Hills can be located.
Another legend is that over 100,000 people died there during its operation as a sanatorium. This is an exaggeration. Current estimates state around 8,200 people died there during its history. There are also rumors of experimental surgeries happening in both the sanitarium and in the nursing home. Rumors have even suggested possible military involvement to test mind control.
The “Death Tunnel” also known as the “Body Chute” was originally constructed to bring fuel and supplies directly from the trains to the hospital. The passageway slants downward. As the years passed, hospital administration realized it was a discreet method of transporting the dead. They carried bodies through the tunnel so they could be taken to hearses without the patients or hospital staff having to watch. It didn’t start as a body chute and isn’t a slide.
Streptomycin provided an excellent weapon against the White Plague when it was developed, in 1943. As a result, patient numbers diminished at Waverley. The decline was so dramatic that the hospital closed in 1961. It reopened as Woodhaven Geriatric Center around 1963. The nursing home operated until the state shut it down in 1982. It is rumored that the shutdown was due to patient neglect.
The fourth floor is considered the most haunted. The third floor is haunted by a little girl with no eyes. Witnesses have also stated a ghostly little boy plays with a bouncing ball. Some rumors also mention an entity called “The Creeper.” This supernatural black mass looks like a shadow as it crawls up the walls and along the floors.
Waverly is open to visitors throughout the year. If you want to test these claims, and your bravery, feel free to arrange a visit with the owners. Maybe you will encounter what so many visitors claim to have seen. Just remember that no trespassing is tolerated and always obtain permission from a property owner before visiting a haunted location.