Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, is widely considered to be one of the most haunted places in America.
The former hospital reportedly experienced up to 6,000 deaths during its tragic history. Many suspect that many of the former patients stayed behind in ghostly form.
The sanatorium was built in 1910 as a specialist hospital to treat patients who had tuberculosis. Originally, the building held 40 to 50 patients but was expanded in 1926 to look after the rapidly growing number of people suffering from the disease.
Because tuberculosis was such a contagious disease, anyone suffering from it was taken away from the rest of the population. There was no guarantee of surviving tuberculosis at this time; patients knew that if they went to Waverly Hills, then they might not be coming back. Even the staff lived there full-time.
Waverly Hills was a self-contained community. Animals were reared for meat, vegetables were grown, and there was even a water treatment facility.
The building itself is an enormous, Gothic-style construction and could house over 400 patients. When it opened it was regarded as one of the most modern sanatoriums of its time.
Waverly Hills continued to operate as a tuberculosis center until an antibiotic was developed to successfully treat the disease. The sanatorium finally closed down in 1962.
Following renovation work, the building was reopened the same year as a hospital for the elderly, only to be closed down in 1981 after the state found out about the horrible neglect of patients.
The following years were not kind to Waverly Hills, as vandals and decay laid siege to it. In fact, the building was on the verge of being condemned.
Thankfully, in 2001, in stepped Charlie and Tina Mattingly. These new owners are paranormal enthusiasts and have made many changes and improvements. In conjunction with the Waverly Hills Historical Society, they work to restore Waverly Hills to its former glory.
The plan is to transform the building into a luxury hotel, catering to those interested in history and the paranormal.
In all, it is estimated that 6000 people met their end at Waverly Hills. The treatments for tuberculosis were often brutal, involving electroshock therapy, putting heavy sandbags on a patient’s chest, and operations to collapse a lung or remove ribs. It goes without saying that patients felt little benefit.
There was also the discovery of a 600-foot chute used to “discreetly” transport dead bodies through the hospital. From death through illness to stories of suicide and maltreatment, the property certainly has a macabre and ghoulish history.
Mike Flickner, a guide and paranormal investigator at Waverly Hills, told NBC News that many patients at the hospital died through a lack of hope rather than through the disease. The death chute was used to stop other patients from seeing too many dead bodies being moved around.
The property was once described by a local journalist as “like something out of a comic book, a place where the Joker might hide out from Batman,” has a really spooky feel and has certainly fired the imagination of thousands of ghost hunters.
Timmy the Little Boy
It is believed that Timmy is a six- or seven-year-old boy who passed away at the hospital and has remained there ever since. Some visitors bring a ball with them and ask Timmy if he would like to play.
They report that the ball moves, seemingly being manipulated by an unseen force, but critics contend that this is simply due to the floors being uneven.
Suicide in Room 502
A pregnant nurse is alleged to have committed suicide in Room 502. The story goes that she was impregnated by one of the doctors, who then rejected her.
Heartbroken, the young lady decided to hang herself. Another version of the story is that it was the hospital’s owner who got the woman pregnant and that she jumped from the room rather than hanging herself.
Regardless, visitors have spoken of a tormented entity in the room.
The Death Tunnel
The death tunnel, sometimes referred to as a chute, is an underground tunnel that goes from Waverly Hills’ main entrance all the way down to the bottom of a steep hill (a total distance of some 500 feet).
The tunnel was used to receive supplies in winter when the weather was bad, and trucks couldn’t get up the hill. However, it is believed that doctors used this tunnel to move the dead.
The tunnel meant they could have moved the bodies without causing distress to the living patients. Now a paranormal hotspot, there are reports of strange shadows, disembodied voices, and inexplicable footsteps. A number of investigators have also reported chilling EVPs…
Guides at Waverly Hills have described their own spooky experiences of the building. One guide related the tale of walking up a stairway when he felt himself being shoved from behind. He was by himself at the time and cannot explain what happened. He fell so hard against the stairs that he still has a scar today.
In a 2017 interview, Tina Mattingly described seeing orbs and balls of light in the chute and the abandoned hallways.
In 2013, tour guide Flickner claimed, “I’ve locked doors before and watched them unlock themselves and open up. I’ve seen a tub of concrete slide by itself.”
Charlie Mattingly has said that sightings of strange shadows and apparitions are an almost daily occurrence. While speaking about the many deaths at the hospital, Mattingly once said, “When you have that kind of death, you can’t help but to think there might be a spirit lingering around that just isn’t happy.”
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|Waverly Hills Hospital
|4400 Paralee Ln, Louisville, KY 40272
Where to find
In the media
Ghost Adventures Season 3, Episode 6 on Travel Channel.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium, accessed July 25, 2017,
Mysterious Universe, “The Ghosts of Waverly Hills,” accessed July 25, 2017,
Spiritual Travels, “Ghost Hunting at Waverly Hills in Louisville, Kentucky,” accessed July 26, 2017,
https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2022/09/14/louisville-waverly-hills-sanatorium-urban-legend-history/9501082002/, “What’s so scary about Waverly Hills Sanatorium? Get to know a haunted Louisville property,” accessed February 15, 2023,
https://www.nbcnews.com/business/travel/former-tb-hospital-now-attracts-ghost-hunters-flna8c11496194, “Former TB hospital now attracts ghost hunters,” accessed February 15, 2023.
Last modified on February 15th, 2023 at 3:22 pm