Postcard from Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Coming Soon: Hotel Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Charlie and Tina Mattingly, current owners of the infamous Waverly Hills Sanatorium, located at 4400 Paralee Lane, Louisville, Kentucky, announced plans to open a 4-star, 120-room hotel catering to the paranormal connoisseur. But would I book a room?
First, a little history:
Major Thomas H. Hays purchased the property in 1883. He built a modest schoolhouse and hired Miss Lizzie Lee Harris to educate his children. Miss Harris christened the schoolhouse “Waverley School” because of her fondness for Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels. Major Hays renamed the entire estate Waverley Hills. When the Board of Tuberculosis purchased the land, they kept the name but changed the spelling to “Waverly.”
Tuberculosis (TB) was known as “The White Plague.” It ran rampant in the early 1900s and prompted the opening of a sanatorium. In its heyday, the 2-story Waverley Hills accommodated 130 patients, adults and children. TB persisted. In 1924, construction commenced to build a 5-story, 400 bed facility. The renovated facility opened on October 17, 1926. However, the popularity of the prescription medication streptomycin decreased the need for extended hospital stays. This led to a drastic decline in patients. The sanatorium closed in 1961.
The sanatorium reopened as the Woodhaven Geriatric Center. Excessive reports of patient abuse led the state to close the facility in 19801982 (Websites vary). A tunnel runs underneath the building and allowed for the convenient concealment of dead bodies from patients.
Subsequent owners sought to reopen the building as a maximum security prison and a religious facility, which would have included a colossal statue of Jesus Christ. Both plans failed.
Today, the Mattingly’s run ghost tours at Waverly. Recently a proposed zoning change request passed. The submitted plans show a restaurant, conference venue, 120-rooms, museum, and liquor bottling business. Ghost tours would continue. Waverly Hills attracts over 10,000 visitors annually. But it begs the question: Would I book a room?
Honestly, I don’t know. Part of me wants to think that I would, but the other half knows that I never travel alone. So, my family would have to go along. Doubtful. That’s a lot of convincing on my part. Would it be worth it? Again, doubtful.
If Waverly Hills is one of the most haunted places on the earth, why would I submit myself to continual paranormal activity? I like my haunts in short bursts. That’s why I don’t live in a haunted house. Well, it’s one reason why I don’t. Here are some additional reasons why I would not book a room:
Room 502: Ghost Hunters conducted an investigation claiming that an unmarried but pregnant nurse hanged herself in Room 502. This story is unconfirmed and highly suspect; I cannot find anything that substantiates it. Still, no thanks.
Suicidal Nurse: Another urban legend is another nurse attempted suicide by slitting her wrists and running through the hospital trailing blood. Another generic story, but I still don’t want to see that at a conference.
High Death Rate: Rumors of exceptionally high death rates to the tune of 62,000 people have circulated over the years. Historical research brings that figure way down to roughly 8,000. Still too many deaths for me.
Existence of the “Body Chute”: While I understand the need and agree to the convenience, I am not compelled to body slide down the chute. Nor do I want to tour a tunnel of death.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to tour abandoned buildings. I think that is part of the allure to Waverly Hills—the graffiti and shear emptiness. By covering the walls and remodeling the building, the Mattingly’s are covering the true essence of Waverly Hills. A museum cannot capture that type of visual emotion. I think the restoration and 4-star hotel concept misses the point. Ghost hunters like old, abandoned buildings. It’s all part of the hunt.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Staff at Waverly Hills Sanatorium