The flimsy “Dogman” attack at the abandoned Hayswood Hospital is making the Internet rounds. Skip the story. Instead, read about how a widow generously purchased and gifted the small town a hospital. The hospital’s history is more exciting.
With a population under 9,000 residents, Maysville is an example of quintessential small-town Americana. Maysville, Kentucky sits on the southern side of the Ohio River. The median income is $29,274 with a 22% poverty rate. On 4th Street overlooking the downtown, sits the abandoned Hayswood Hospital.
The main wooden building was built around 1842 by Dr. Joseph Taylor. By 1886, newspaper articles began soliciting female students for the private Hayswood Female Seminary, founded by Rev. John S. Hays, D.D. The school offered education in the arts, as well as, traditional subjects. Rev. Hays died in 1899 at the age of 67. However, the school continued in operation until 1907.
On August 8, 1907, “Hayswood” as it was informally known was auctioned for $6,200 and sold to widow Mrs. May V. Peale Wilson, who promptly deeded the property to a trust in order to open a town hospital. On December 2, 1907, the Hayswood Hospital informally opened. It was dubbed the “palace on the hill.”
By 1907, May Wilson was a widow who had the means to purchase property. Wilson did reside at the hospital. She advertised for a “white woman” to serve as a companion and cook. The “May Wilson” Hospital League was a women’s volunteer group. Mrs. Wilson died in 1909. She did not have any surviving children and bequeathed her fortune to various individuals and organizations. The hospital received an annual payment from the trust. In 1909, the hospital was re-dedicated as the Wilson Hospital. An oil painting was commissioned to hang within the hospital.
The trust ran the hospital from 1907-1915. The city took control of the hospital and saw it through an extensive renovation in 1925. Samuel Hannaford designed a brick building and added a 4th story due to anticipated volume. In 1981, the hospital was sold to the Nashville company Hospital Corporation of America, which ran it as the Maysville Hospital until February 9, 1983.
The hospital, abandoned and decaying, changed hands several times. First in 1994 for $42,000 to Ester Johnson of Classic Properties. Ms. Johnson sought to renovate the building and turn it into high-end apartments. The development never took off. Johnson lost the property to unpaid taxes in a tax sale.
Tax Ease Lien Servicing paid roughly $6,000 for the property in 2013. Still, the hospital sat abandoned but became a regular location for thrill seekers and paranormal enthusiasts. And, yes, all of them were trespassing with lots of them receiving citations.
Hope gripped the town in 2018 when Stitch Up Properties, LLC snatched the property for $50,000. However, it may be dashed as the local newspaper has not been able to contact anyone at the company to enquire about prospective development.
In the end, most people want to know if the hospital is haunted. It’s unstable and dangerous to explore. In addition to the falling debris, the hospital has a lot of asbestos, which hindered earlier developments since the cost to remove ran about $2 million dollars.
I’ve seen several blogs discussing these supposed haunting. However, they fall flat and lose credibility because the writers have their facts wrong. If someone can’t even research the location, then how can we believe he researched any hauntings?