Investigating Waverly Hills Sanatorium: Is it Haunted?


Kayla Moriarty, Staff Writer

I have been interested in the world of the paranormal for years now, and Waverly Hills Sanatorium has always been at the top of my list. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the sanatorium for three days, and what I experienced was truly otherworldly. Before I dive into my personal experience and investigation, some backstory is needed to truly understand why restless spirits would still be roaming Waverly Hills.

Originally, the land that Waverly Hills currently occupies was once a school in the early 1800s. With time, it became a hospital for tuberculosis patients during the early 1900s. The tuberculosis epidemic ran rampant in the 1920s through the 60s, and Kentucky’s southern weather allowed for the illness to spread like wildfire. Initially, the hospital was only meant to treat around 50 people, but as the disease spread, patients started coming through the doors. Unfortunately, doctors knew hardly any information about tuberculosis, so many of their treatments were experiments. The surgeries and procedures that doctors used to treat tuberculosis would be considered barbaric in modern times, but they were a massive game of trial and error. Some procedures would include draining blood, removing ribs, organ removal, and specifically removing lungs. These gruesome surgeries proved no contribution to curing tuberculosis, and many patients died during the procedures. It is believed that a total of 50,000 people died at Waverly Hills, either while fighting tuberculosis or undergoing faulty medical procedures. Some less dark treatments included sunlight and positive reinforcement. The windows stayed open year-round despite the season to expose patients to the sun. Doctors believed that a positive environment was key in recovering from tuberculosis, and witnessing death may be detrimental to a patient’s mental health. Therefore, a tunnel was built underneath the hospital, and it connected to the train tracks so that trains could take the bodies away without patients knowing. This is commonly referred to as the body chute and is reportedly one of the most haunted parts of the sanatorium.

Luckily, an antibiotic was invented that put an end to the tuberculosis outbreak by the 1960s. However, that could not undo the damage of the thousands of lives lost at the hands of tuberculosis. The sanatorium remained abandoned for quite some time after it closed its doors until the Mattingly family bought it in the early 2000s. Ever since then, the sanatorium has been open to tours and has become an attraction for paranormal enthusiasts across the globe.

Not so Natural Causes:

Deaths were not just limited to tuberculosis, and some died out of complete tragedy. Room 502 is labeled as extremely haunted by both staff and visitors, and is said to be a hotspot of paranormal activity. A nurse was said to have committed suicide out of the window, and her spirit is said to still be heard on EVPs and seen in eerie photographs. Like a game of telephone, the story has been misinterpreted over the years, but most say she committed suicide because of her unwanted pregnancy. While the sanatorium was abandoned, a homeless man took shelter in its walls. He tragically fell down the elevator shaft, to his death, with his dog as well. Many investigators have tried to communicate with him via EVPS, and many believe that he was pushed by a spirit.
Hauntings & My Experience:

With all of the misfortunes that have taken place at Waverly Hills, it is no surprise that many have pinpointed the hospital as haunted. I took a mini-tour of the sanatorium, and being inside those walls was enough to make anyone’s skin itch. I didn’t get to see all of the areas, but I did get to see the atrium, minor surgery room, and a lot of the third floor. I couldn’t help but feel a pit in the bottom of my stomach the entire time, and whether or not that was the placebo effect is unknown. As someone who is on the fence about believing in ghosts, I went into Waverly not knowing what to expect. I felt watched the entire time I was in the sanatorium, and just felt an overwhelming desire to leave. My mother went on a separate tour and got some pretty unexplainable footage. She captured a photo of what appeared to be a shirtless man standing in the window, looking out to the rest of the world (the featured image). No other tours were happening when this photo was taken. She also got to walk in the body chute, and said “the feeling was so overwhelming.” I would say there are occurrences at the sanatorium that cannot logically be explained.


Photo taken by Deidra Sorg 


Accounts of staff & myself