Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The REAL Waverly Hills

It's October, and everyone knows what that means - time for the ghosts, goblins, and spooky things hiding in the darkness to come out and haunt us! In Kentucky, one of the the allegedly most haunted (at the very least, probably one of the most popular and well-known) sites is Waverly Hills Sanitarium, in Louisville.

Originally purchased and used as a home in 1883, it was converted to a hospital in 1910, during one of many tuberculosis (TB) epidemics. Waverly (also spelled Waverley throughout the years) Hills was merely one of many TB sanitariums throughout the commonwealth. Dedicated on October 12, 1910, it initially housed about 140 patients. However, due to the epidemic, this number quickly rose, and admitted patients overflowed the capacity - even staying in tents! Within 15 years, the building we know as Waverly Hills today was constructed, opening in October 1926.

TB treatments varied from folk remedies, such as cold/fresh air (one such short-lived TB "clinic" focused on this treatment resided in Mammoth Cave!) and sunshine, to medical therapies including surgery to remove ribs or parts of the lung! These treatments did not always work, and eventually antibiotics came along, at which point, Waverly Hills closed (1962). It eventually reopened as an insane asylum; only to close again, 2 decades later (1981), due to accusations of patient abuse.

Though the sanitarium went through various failed plans for use & recuperation, it stood abandoned until 2001, when the son of a former orderly bought it and began offering historical tours and ghost walks, with all proceeds going towards restoration of the property.

To date, Waverly Hills has taken approximately 63,000 lives. Many from tuberculosis, but supposedly some from contemporary satanic rituals.... Who REALLY knows how many of these lost lives still haunt the sanitarium today? Do YOU believe?

Check out the newspaper clippings below to find out more about what the REAL Waverly Hills Sanitarium was like - from its October 12, 1910 dedication (as described in the Nov. 24, 1910 Paducah Evening Sun) to a Conference of Charaties tour, two months later (from December 15, 1910 Berea Citizen); and, finally, read Edward Spelman's obituary from the May 16, 1914 edition of the Kentucky Irish-American - one of the lives lost to TB, early on, at Waverly Hills. I wonder if Mr. Spelman is still "floating" around....

Have you ever visited Waverly Hills Sanitarium? Ever experienced anything supernatural? Seen any ghosts or spooky things? Perhaps spotted Mr. Spelman? Share your ghost stories with us!


  1. Nice articles. The death toll for Waverly Hills is likely to be between 5,000 to 6,000 I have about 4,000 death certificates on file which includes all of the deaths for almost every year between 1910 and 1953. In fact, I have Mr. Spelman's death certificate.
    Also, when Waverly Hills closed it became a geriatrics facility or nursing home not an insane asylum.
    John Amerine

  2. Thanks for your comment, John. Waverly Hills is indeed a fascinating American story!

  3. I do apologize! I was so focused on the "spooky stuff" - I left out that the insane asylum part is part of the urban legend & folklore of what treatments were like (and what was treated) when it was a nursing home. Thanks for the correction! And that's so kewl that you have Mr. Spelman's death certificate!

  4. spooky, creepy and scary!

    ... where the bad folks go when they die, they don't go to heaven where the angels cry .... go to a lake of fire and fry, see them again till the 4th of July ...

  5. me interesaria saber mas sobre ese certificado