Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Waverly Hills Sanitarium- A Kentucky haunt
The following is an excerpt from Bobette Bryans wonderful article about Waverly, the best we've found:
The Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Louisville Kentucky has it all-- cold spots, disembodied voices, and ghosts roaming the halls. It sits on a great hill overlooking the city and seems like a reigning fortress of gloom in its eerie, decaying state. The atmosphere is further darkened by a chilling history of mass death and of patient abuse during the years it was used as a geriatric hospital.
In 1910, a wooden two-story hospital was built on the site, which was the highest elevated hill in southern Jefferson County, but with tuberculousis rampant in the area, the building wasn't big enough to house all of the patients. And so a new building was constructed in 1924, and the new Waverly Hospital opened in 1926.
Treatment for the dreaded disease was primitive at that time. Without antibiotics, natural cures provided the only available defense. Health care providers believed that rest and plenty of fresh air and sunshine was the answer, and thus the patients spent the majority of their time in the solarium-like porch ways. You can see in the picture above that the patients are just outside of their rooms on an enclosed porch. The large windows had no glass and were screened. Even in the winter, patients would be placed outdoors with heating blankets (such tuberculosis treatments were the reason why heating blankets were invented.).
Besides such natural remedies, there were also many experimental treatments which were downright dangerous including: pneumothorax, surgically collapsing or deflating a portion of the lung so that it would heal; and thoracoplasty opening up the chest and removing up to 2 to 3 ribs at a time so that the lung would have more room to expand and heal. And there were other dire experimental methods as well. None of these methods were effective. In fact, fewer than five percent of patients survived the pneumothorax method.
Thousands of people died at Waverly before streptomycin was discovered in 1943--some estimates are as high as 64,000. Ten thousand people died during Waverly's first three years alone. But by the 1950's, tuberculosis was nearly eradicated thanks to the antibiotic. As a result, the need for such a huge facility to handle tuberculosis patients was no longer necessary, and the hospital closed in 1961.
In recent years, interest has grown in the history of the building. It was even featured in a segment of Fox Television’s, World's Scariest Places, and on MTV's Fear. A documentary has been made called, Spooked, and the feature film Death Tunnel.
There are rumors that satanic rituals have taken place within its walls, of a little girl moving about the third floor solarium playing hide and seek with trespassers, of a little boy named Bobby playing with his leather ball, of rooms lighting up though there was no power in the building, of doors slamming, disembodied voices, a hearse driving up and dropping off coffins, and an old woman running from the front door with her wrists bleeding screaming: “Help me. Somebody save me!”
Ghosts have been seen in the form of shadow people and ectoplasm clouds, and even in full apparition form. Cries and screams are frequently heard in the lonely, moldering halls.