Waverly Hills Sanatorium is a former hospital built to treat patients with Tuberculosis, also known as the ‘White Death’ and is now said to be one of the most haunted buildings in North America.
Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA
BACKGROUND, HISTORY AND LORE
Waverly Hills Sanatorium sits on land purchased by Major Thomas H Hays in 1883, reportedly as the Hays’ ‘family home’. Hays was reportedly in need of a ‘school for his daughters to attend’ so he ‘started a one-room schoolhouse’. He hired a woman named Lizzie Lee Harris to teach at the school and her ‘fondness’ for Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels inspired her to name the school ‘Waverley School’. Hays chose to name his new property Waverley Hill after his daughter’s small schoolhouse.
The ‘Board of Tuberculosis Hospital’ kept the name, but changed the spelling to Waverly, after purchasing the land and opening the Sanatorium there. They were reportedly given $25,000 to ‘erect a hospital for the care of advanced cases of pulmonary tuberculosis’.
Originally the sanatorium was a ‘two-story frame building with a hipped roof and half-timbering’. Construction on the wooden building began in 1908 and was designed to ‘accommodate 40-50 tuberculosis patients safely’. The sanatorium opened on July 26, 1910.
In 1914 a ‘children’s pavilion’ added another fifty beds bringing ‘the known capacity’ to around 130 patients. The pavilion was not only for sick children ‘but also for the children of tuberculosis patients who could not be cared for properly otherwise’. The sanatorium would later be expanded to house more than four-hundred patients in 1926 due to the need for more beds and ‘a more durable structure’
At the time Tuberculosis was ‘a very serious disease’ and people who were afflicted with Tuberculosis were ‘isolated from the general public and placed in an area where they could rest, stay calm, and have plenty of fresh air’. Sanatoriums were ‘built on high hills surrounded by peaceful woods to create a serene atmosphere to help the patients recover’.
“Tuberculosis was becoming an epidemic in Valley Station, Pleasure Ridge Park, and other parts of Jefferson County in Kentucky. The little TB clinic was filled with more than 140 people, and it was obvious that a much larger hospital was needed to treat those afflicted with the condition. Because Tuberculosis was so extremely contagious and at epidemic proportions, those living with it could not be allowed to live and exist among the general population. It was not known at the time that Tuberculosis was an airborne disease.”https://www.therealwaverlyhills.com/about (TheRealWaverlyHills.com, 2020)
Jefferson County was ‘severely stricken’ with an outbreak of tuberculosis at the time there were reportedly ‘many tuberculosis cases in Louisville at the time because of all the wetlands along the Ohio River, which were perfect for the tuberculosis bacteria’.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a ‘self-contained community’ and was ‘a city in and of itself, complete with its own zip code’ with ‘its own post office, water treatment facility, grew its own fruits and vegetables, raised its own meat for slaughter, and maintained many of the other necessities of everyday life’.
Patients, nurses, doctors, and other employees who would need to be at Waverly ‘had to say goodbye to everything they knew on the outside world’ and became ‘a permanent resident on the hill’. However reportedly despite that fact ‘many patients received visits from loved ones on visiting day’ and ‘when the visit was over, the visitors left Waverly and ventured back out into the community’.
Reportedly as antibiotics did not exist at the time ‘other forms of aid were used to treat TB patients’ such as ‘heat lamps, fresh air, and positive talk and reassurance. At the time the death rate of TB patients was ‘one death per day’. Estimates vary and ‘records have been destroyed’ but reportedly there may have been up tp 64,000 deaths at the sanatorium.
However, other sources claim that this number is ‘greatly exaggerated’. According to Dr J Frank Stewart who was a ‘former assistant medical director at the hospital’, the ‘highest number of deaths to occur at Waverly Hills in a single year was one hundred and fifty-two’. Reportedly, by 1955 those numbers had ‘dropped to as low as forty-two deaths’. It has also been estimated by some, based on death certificates, that ‘approximately six thousand people died there.
Other treatments for tuberculosis at the time were reportedly sometimes ‘as bad as the disease itself’. Some of the experiments that were conducted ‘in search of a cure’ seem barbaric by today’s standards. For some treatments patient’s lungs were’ exposed to ultraviolet light to try and stop the spread of bacteria’ in ‘sun rooms’ using ‘artificial light in place of sunlight, or on the roof or open porches of the hospital’. Electroshock therapy was also reportedly used for patients who had tuberculosis that had ‘spread to the brain’, on the first floor in the ‘morgue wing’.
Fresh air was also thought to also be a possible cure and patients were often ‘placed in front of huge windows or on the open porches’ regardless of the season. Reportedly in some old photographs, patients are shown ‘lounging in chairs, taking in the fresh air, while literally covered with snow’.
For other treatments, balloons would be ‘surgically implanted in the lungs and then filled with air to expand them’ which often had ‘disastrous results’. Another treatment involved an operation where ‘muscles and ribs were removed from a patient’s chest to allow the lungs to expand further and let in more oxygen’. This ‘blood-soaked procedure’ was reportedly seen as a last resort and many patients did not survive.
Another feature of the sanatorium is ‘the tunnel’, nicknamed ‘the body chute’. The tunnel was built on the first floor with ‘the rest of the building’ originally as an ‘entrance and exit for the workers of the sanatorium’ and led to the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill. Reportedly, they used a ‘motorized rail and cable system’ to lower the bodies to ‘the secret waiting trains’.
“The corridor is 500 feet to the bottom of the hill and has a set of stairs on one side, which were the stairs used for the workers. On the other side, there was a cart that moved up and down the staircase which transported supplies and other necessities.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waverly_Hills_Sanatorium (Wikipedia, 2020)
Later the tunnel would be used to transport dead bodies ‘as secretly as possible’ to ‘increase the morale and lower the death rates’. The sight of the dead ‘being carried away in full view of the patients’ was thought to lower patient morale. At the time it was also thought to be ‘increasing the number of deaths per day’.
The sanatorium served as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961 after ‘the introduction of streptomycin in 1943’. From then the number of tuberculosis cases ‘gradually lowered, until there was no longer a need for such a large hospital’. The remaining patients were reportedly sent to Hazelwood Sanatorium in Louisville. Waverly Hills was ‘closed down and quarantined, then renovated’.
In 1962 the building reopened as Woodhaven Medical Services. The ‘geriatric facility’ primarily treated ‘ageing patients with various stages of dementia and mobility limits, as well as the severely mentally handicapped’. However Woodhaven ‘failed greatly because it was severely understaffed and overcrowded’ and also reportedly had reports of ‘patient neglect’. That facility was closed by the state of Kentucky in 1982.
In 1983 developer J Clifford Todd bought the hospital for $3,005,000. Todd, and architect Milton Thompson, reportedly wanted to ‘convert it into a minimum-security prison for the state’. However, the developers ‘dropped the plan after neighbours protested’. The pair then proposed ‘converting the hospital into apartments’.
However, the building, ‘over the next few decades’, fell into more ‘dark times’ and would be ‘vandalized, damaged, nearly condemned’. The building would also reportedly become ‘a magnet for the homeless, looking for shelter, and teenagers, who broke in looking for ghosts’.
“Previous property owners had no desire to maintain the luster of the building and did little to stop people from slowly destroying her. It is sad that a place that played such a vital role during this period of history and medical discovery was not only over, but now disrespected.”https://www.therealwaverlyhills.com/about (TheRealWaverlyHills.com, 2020)
In 2001 the ‘once stately building had been nearly destroyed by time’ and was purchased by ‘historical and paranormal enthusiasts’ Charles and Tina Mattingly. The couple then made ‘many changes and improvements to the building and surrounding property’. They also held tours of Waverly Hills and hosted a ‘haunted house attraction each Halloween, with proceeds going toward restoration of the property’.
Mattingly reportedly, while taking video footage of the building to send to contractors, found that when playing back the video there were ‘patches of discolouration on the walls that didn’t exist when he went back to check’. He also noticed ‘several shadows, orbs and various other lighting anomalies’.
According to Charles Mattingly, it is an almost everyday occurrence for ‘overnighters’ to come in and see ‘apparitions, ghosts, [and] shadow movements’. His father also reportedly worked at Waverly Hills while it was still in operation and Mattingly claims that he ‘has records showing thousands died at the hospital before it was closed’.
“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”https://wjla.com/news/entertainment/waverly-hills-sanatorium-rumored-to-be-haunted-96119 (WJLA, 2013)
Waverly Hills also became known outside of the local area when the TV series The Scariest Places on Earth profiled the institution in 2001 and has, since then, become a popular destination for paranormal investigators.
In August of 2007, Waverly Hills hosted the ‘last show’ of the touring music festival Sounds of the Underground.
“The old sanatorium is owned today by private investors who open the historic building up to curious overnight guests and ‘ghost’ tours. The tours inform guests of the building’s origin and history.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waverly_Hills_Sanatorium (Wikipedia, 2020)
The hospital quickly gained a reputation for being haunted and stories began to circulate of the resident ghosts. Accounts and stories include a little girl who is seen ‘running up and down the third-floor solarium’, a little boy ‘spotted with a leather ball’, a hearse that appears ‘in the back of the building dropping off coffins’ and an ‘angry, unwelcoming older male’.
Some sources have named the spirit of the little girl Mary, and some sources have named the spirit of the little boy Bobby although most sources have named him Timmy. Reportedly, many visitors and paranormal investigators have ‘seen or sensed’ the spirit of the little girl, some say that she also plays with a ball and others have claimed to have seen her ‘peering out’ of the third-floor windows. Others claim to have ‘only heard the ball bouncing on the floor or down the stairs’.
One visitor reportedly told a guide that he had ‘encountered a little girl in one of the third floor rooms’ and that she ‘wasn’t normal’. He claimed that the little girl ‘kept saying that she had no eyes’ and that he was ‘so terrified that he refused to enter the building again’.
Some visitors have also reportedly heard ‘the sound of children singing nursery rhymes coming from the roof’, where children used to be taken, when the building was a TB hospital, for ‘heliotherapy’ in which they were ‘exposed to the supposed healing rays of the sun’.
There are also reports of a spirit known as ‘the creeper’ that is said to move around crawling on all fours, on the floors, walls and ceilings and ‘gives guests a sense of great dread’. On the Astonishing Legends Podcast, paranormal investigator James A Willis described a ‘creeper experience’ from a previous visit to Waverly.
Reportedly, Willis and his group were told ‘a story’ that if you went up to the fourth floor and one person stands by themselves on one side of a hallway, everyone else in the group goes to the other side of the hallway, turns to face the person standing by themselves and switch off all the lights that the creeper, who appeared as a ‘black shadowy creature’ would creep up behind that person on the ceiling.
Willis volunteered to ‘be the bait’ and went to one end of a hallway on that floor and the rest of the group stood at the other end of the hallway. He turned his headlamp off and stood there for around twenty minutes but did not experience anything himself. There was however reportedly a ‘ruckus’ at the other end of the hallway where at least two of the others in the group reportedly saw Willis turn on his headlamp and ‘illuminate [his] entire body’, bend down and pick up his camera then walk into a room on his left. They also claimed to have ‘called out’ to Willis but heard him answer from ‘the middle of the hallway’ where he was actually standing in ‘the same exact spot’ with his headlamp off.
The Astonishing Legends investigation team also recorded a digital recording of a groan from an unidentified source (discussed at around 2hrs 33mins into the podcast episode and playable on the episode page on their official website).
The building also reportedly has ‘numerous shadow people’ and the body chute is also said to be ‘full of paranormal activity’. People have reported apparitions, voices, strange lights, a ‘sense of dread’ in the tunnel and even reportedly claimed to have seen doppelgangers.
Another legend of the sanatorium tells of a man in a white coat who is seen walking in the kitchen and the smell of cooking food and ‘fresh-baked bread’ reportedly sometimes wafts through the room. People have also reported hearing footsteps in the kitchen as well as a door ‘swinging shut under its own power’. The morgue on the first floor is reportedly also an ‘area of heightened [paranormal] activity’.
“No one knows who he is, but it is presumed that he’s an old employee of Waverly Hill who has remained here after death. The smell of food often wafts from the kitchen though no meals have been served since 1982 when the geriatric hospital was closed.”http://www.ghost-story.co.uk/index.php/haunted-buildings/367-waverly-hills-sanatorium-louisville-usa (ghost-story.co.uk, 2020)
There are also stories of the ghost of an old woman who is often seen at the main entrance of the building and is usually reported to have been seen running out of the main doors, often with her hands and legs in chains with blood dripping from her wrists and ankles. According to the reports she ‘cries for help before she disappears into thin air’.
Visitors also reportedly claim to have experienced slamming door and ‘strange sounds and eerie footsteps in empty rooms’ and many people have reported seeing lights in the building at night despite the fact that there has supposedly been no electricity in the building for many years and ‘no glass to reflect light’.
A security guard also reported that he’d seen a TV on in a room on the third floor, seeing, from the outside ’what appeared to be the distinct flicker of a television in a dark room’. However when he went upstairs to investigate he reportedly ‘found nothing out of the ordinary’.
People also often hear the sound of chains or keys rattling in the sanatorium. The Mattingly’s reportedly attribute this to one of the building’s previous maintenance workers and caretakers, named Ralph.
Troy Taylor of the Louisville Ghost Hunter’s Society investigated the building in 2001 and reportedly captured ‘a strange photo of a light burning in a stairwell though there were no lights in the building at the time and no light hanging in that spot’.
Mike Flickner, a ‘guide and paranormal investigator’ at Waverly Hills has reportedly said that he ‘has been convinced for years the place is filled with spirits of the dead’. He has claimed to have locked doors and then ‘watched them unlock themselves and open up’ and had seen a tub of concrete ‘slide by itself’’. However, Flickner and Mattingly also reportedly acknowledge that ‘some of the so-called sightings by visitors could be a case of the imagination playing tricks in a spooky place’.
In another story of the sanatorium, ‘some time during 1990’ a homeless man and his dog were reportedly sleeping in the building when two teenage boys entered the building. The two boys had reportedly ‘become obsessed in devil worship’ and had attacked the man and ‘murdered him in the name of Satan’ before throwing his body down the empty elevator chute. They were later arrested and sent to prison.
Another version of this story, however, is that the man and his dog died when they fell down an elevator shaft, reportedly from the third floor, by accident. Tina Mattingling and others have reportedly seen the ghost of both the homeless man and his dog. Tina claimed to have seen a ‘very tall man’ who was thin and had ‘long hair’ in a hallway one night after a tour but when she turned on her light and pointed it at him he was gone. She also claims to have seen, shortly after, a ‘small white german shepherd’ lying on the floor. Tina reported that she tried calling the dog but that it didn’t move and then the dog ‘disappeared’.
Tina Mattingly also described another experience in which she and another woman, who takes pictures for the Mattingly’s, were on the fourth floor in the ‘nurses waiting room’ when Tina heard her scream. Reportedly she had captured a picture of a full-bodied apparition of a woman. However, she was reportedly not able to send Tina the original photograph but Tina took a picture of the camera display.
In another reported incident a group of teenage boys who had taken a ‘fire axe’ to the building intending to break in. According to the story they used the axe to break a window and crawl inside and became trapped in one room while exploring. The boys were reportedly heard, by the Waverly Hill’s security, ‘yelling and screaming’ for someone to come help them. When one security guard found them and opened the door’ the boys were extremely relieved to see him and were ‘very effusive in their thanks’.
The teenage boys claimed that a ‘group of shadows’ had ‘closed in’ on them and wouldn’t let them leave. They said that they had tried ‘hacking [their] way out’ with the axe but the door ‘wouldn’t budge’ until the guard opened it. The door reportedly cannot be locked or latched, only has a handle and ‘swings open easily’. The door now has ‘twenty or thirty chop marks’, on ‘the edge of the door’ near the ‘seam’, supposedly from an axe like someone trying to break the door down.
In a Trip Adviser review of Waverly Hills Sanatorium a user claimed that they used to live in ‘the neighbourhood directly in front of Waverly Hills Sanatorium’ and that their family’s house ‘seems to be haunted as well’. They also claimed to have seen a ghost in the house and that they had ‘heard things at night’.
The fifth floor of the sanatorium is thought to be home to the most paranormal activity, where visitors have reported seeing children ‘playing in rooms’, apparitions of patients ‘roaming the halls’, shadowy figures ‘passing by doorways’ and ‘strange shapes’.
One paranormal investigator reportedly witnessed ‘what looked like human shadows moving up and down the fourth-floor hallway’. He also claimed that ‘one of the shadows in particular actually appeared to look around corners at him’. Volunteers working to restore the fifth-floor area have also reportedly experienced ‘being struck by unknown forces’, having objects ‘thrown at them or moved’, doors ‘slamming shut’ and ‘more apparitions in doorways and halls’.
A guard also claimed to have seen a ‘floating head in one of the rooms late at night’ before screaming and rushing downstairs where he passed out. He was reportedly so terrified that he never returned to the sanatorium. Tina Mattingly also claimed that security who had stayed overnight on the fifth floor reported that things would ‘hit their tents all night long’ and that they heard ‘kids giggling’.
Room 502, on the fifth floor of the sanatorium, is also reportedly very haunted and seems to have some of the highest reported activity in the building. The fifth floor of the old hospital consists of ‘two nurses’ stations, a pantry, a linen room, medicine room and two medium-sized rooms on both sides of the two nurses’ stations’. Room 502, is reportedly the subject of ‘many rumours and legends and just about every curiosity-seeker that had broken into Waverly Hills over the years wanted to see it’.
According to legend a twenty-nine-year-old head nurse, named Mary, was found dead in Room 502 in the 1930s, possibly in 1928, after she had committed suicide by ‘hanging herself from the light fixture’. Reportedly she was ‘unmarried and pregnant’ and her ‘depression’ over her situation led her to take her own life.
According to the Dark Histories podcast, Charles Mattingly claims that the nurse performed an abortion on herself, which was ‘successful to a degree’, then flushed the foetus down the toilet before hanging herself. Mattingly also claims that this is why, when her body was found, she was ‘covered in blood’ and why the staff then went down to the ‘septic pond that flushed out the hospital’s toilet water’ and pulled out the aborted foetus in order to ‘give it a proper burial’. Mediums and psychics have reportedly retold this legend ‘including their own twist’ such as ‘murder and torture’.
Another version of the story is that the doctor who had gotten the nurse pregnant tried to perform an abortion on the nurse when she died and he staged her death as a suicide. According to this version of the story, she was hung outside of room 502 not inside. Other sources also report that her body was found by patients of the facility.
In 1932 another nurse who worked in the same room is said to have ‘jumped from the roof patio and plunged several stories to her death’. Reportedly ‘no one seems to know why she would have done this but many have speculated that she may have actually have been pushed over the edge’.
However, there are reportedly no records of these deaths and ‘neither story is documented’ but neither has either story been ‘completely discounted’. There are also ‘conflicting accounts as to how the woman managed to hang herself’. Believers of the stories also claim that the deaths were ‘covered up to protect the hospital’ and that ‘most of the earliest accounts point to a local family named Thornberry’. The Thornberry’s reportedly worked at the sanatorium ‘over generations’ and a member of the family is said to have been the one who found the body of the nurse who hung herself, and passed the story down. However, according to an obituary John Thornberry was born in 1922, which would have made him around six to ten years old at the time of the alleged death.
Some say that she did it from the light fixture, others from a pipe over the door and some say from the rafters. There are no rafters, the pipe over the door was part of a sprinkler system installed in 1972 and the light fixture is hung on a light decorative chain that would not hold the weight of a person. There is no actual documentation of either death, although some claim the stories were verified by a former staff member, John Thornberry, who died in 2006.”https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/waverlytb (American Hauntings, 2020)
There are also reportedly no records to indicate that a nurse fell to her death from the building.
“…it seems likely that something occurred in that room to cause the legend to take root in the first place. What that might have been, no one knows. The story of Room 502 may have been loosely based on some forgotten facts but the truth remains buried under all of the speculation and rumor.”https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/waverlytb (American Hauntings, 2020)
However, witnesses claim to have seen ‘shapes moving in the windows’, heard disembodied voices and if the legends are to be believed some have even ‘jumped to their deaths’ from the room. There have also reportedly been sightings of the ghost of a nurse in uniform in room 502 and some claim to have heard ‘disembodied voices that order trespassers to get out’. Others have also reportedly claimed to have seen the apparition of a woman in a nurse uniform hanging from the ceiling.
PARANORMAL TASK FORCE INVESTIGATION
The Paranormal Task Force conducted their investigation on September 10th in 2006 with ‘several video recorders’, some with ‘infrared extenders’ and ‘night shot capabilities’, as well as ‘various digital still cameras’, EMF meters, voice recorders and ‘IR Thermometers’.
The Paranormal Task Force team was joined by members from Missouri Paranormal Research (MPR), Midwestern Paranormal Investigative Association (MPIA), St. Louis Paranormal Investigative Team (SPIT), SpookStalker and other individuals from the Missouri Paranormal Research Para-Forum.
The group arrived at Waverly at around 11 PM where they were introduced to their tour guide who discussed the rules with them before taking them into the building and onto the second floor. The first floor was reportedly not accessible to investigate during their visit due to ‘current renovation and the set up of the haunted house props’.
However, the group was allowed to ‘fully investigate the second and third floors’. At around 4 AM, they ‘rotated to the fourth and fifth floors’ and investigated until about 7 AM. They then ‘walked the entire length of the Death Tunnel’ before leaving at about 8:30 AM.
During the investigation, the paranormal teams reportedly experienced ‘small pieces of old concrete’ landing near investigators ‘on a few occasions’ while they were on the second floor. Investigation of the areas where this happened reportedly ‘showed that the closest place on the walls or ceilings where such could have [fallen] were over 10 feet away’.
They also reported that some investigators were ‘touched by an unseen force in various manners’, one investigator received ‘unexplainable scratches’, that voices and whispers from ‘unseen forces’ were heard by ‘many investigators’ during the investigation and the ‘approaching sound of metal scraping on the concrete floor was reportedly heard by some investigators on the second floor. The teams also reported that some investigators witnessed a swing on the roof of the building start to swing on its own. Reportedly ‘no other swings at that time showed any movement’.
The investigation also captured digital and film ‘stills’ as wll as ‘several hours worth of video and audio’. The investigation reported that they did not capture any ‘remarkable EVP’ but they did capture ‘two very remarkable photographs captured by Tom Halstead of MPR’ and ‘one very remarkable video captured by our friend and guest Tom from Colorado’.
The combination of human experiences coupled with the very remarkable photographs (digital and film) and very remarkable video captures allow us to state that there is a very significant level of paranormal activity happening throughout this location and there is indeed a haunting and/or multiple hauntings occurring at this location.”https://www.paranormaltaskforce.com/Waverly.html (Gregory Myers, 2006)
The above was reportedly taken around 7AM on the fourth floor of the sanatorium with a Pentax K1000 35mm Film Camera, a Pro-Master 5600 extendable flash, ILFOrdHP5 B&W 400 ISO film, with camera settings of 1/60th second speed and a F-stop of 5.6.
The picture above was taken by ‘Greg of MPR’ at around 6:26AM in the same area in which Tom Halstead’s picture above was captured to show the same general area captured in colour.
The image above was captured by Tom Halstead on the second floor in the doorway ‘going from the Patio Atrium to the hallway’ at around 2AM where he reportedly ‘felt an extreme cold spot on his upper body and a cold draft right before taking this picture’.
AMERICAN HAUNTINGS INVESTIGATION
American Hauntings, owned by Troy Taylor, visited Waverly Hills in 2002 and took part in a tour on a ‘dark and stormy night’. Taylor claimed that when he went into the building, to him it was just ‘an old, spooky building with a fascinating history’ and the fact that it was allegedly haunted ‘simply added to the experience’.
After meeting the owners the group went inside and started their ‘exploration of the building’.
“The building was almost silent. All that I could hear was the sound of our own footsteps, our hushed voices and the drip of rain as it slipped through the cracks in the roof and splashed down onto the floor. I was given the full guided tour and saw various rooms, the treatment areas, the kitchen, morgue and on and on. We climbed the stairs to the top floor and I saw legendary Room 502, as well as the lights of Louisville as they reflected off the low and ominous-looking clouds that had gathered above the city.“https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/waverlytb (American Hauntings, 2020)
At the time of the investigation the entrance to the fourth floor was kept locked and saved for the end of the tour and when they finally arrived on the fourth floor Taylor ‘got the distinct feeling that something strange was in the air’.
“I make absolutely no claims of any psychic ability whatsoever but there was just something about this floor of the hospital that felt different than any of the others. What had been nothing more than just an old ramshackle and broken down building suddenly seemed different. I can’t really put into words what felt so strange about it but it almost seemed to be a tangible ‘presence’ that I had not encountered anywhere else in the place. And right away, eerie things started to happen.”https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/waverlytb (American Hauntings, 2020)
Reportedly, behind the tour group was a wing that they were told was not safe to enter and that sections of the floor had ‘fallen in’ in that area but Taylor claimed to have ‘clearly heard the sounds of doors slamming from this part of the building’.
Taylor also claimed that the wind was ‘not strong enough that night to have moved those heavy doors and this clearly sounded as though someone was closing them very hard’. Reportedly he also ‘investigated’ and found that that there was no one walking around that part of the fourth floor.
In another part of the building, walking down a hallway that leads to former patient rooms with large open windows, with his flashlight turned off Taylor claimed to see ‘shadows that flickered back and forth’.
“I was sure that this was trick of the eye, though, likely caused by the lights or the wind moving something outside. But was where the corridor angled to the right that I got a look at something that was definitely not a trick of the eye! In order for the reader to understand what I saw, I have to explain that the hallway ahead of us continued straight for a short distance and then turned sharply to the right. It was what was dubbed the ‘bat-wing’ design, which meant that there was a main center in each building and then the wings extended right and left, then angled again so that they ran slightly backward like a bird, or bat, wings. Directly at the angle ahead of us was a doorway that led into a treatment room. I only noticed the doorway in the darkness because the dim light from the windows beyond it had caused it to glow slightly. This made it impossible to miss since it was straight ahead of us.”https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/waverlytb (American Hauntings, 2020)
They then reportedly saw ‘the clear and distinct silhouette of a man crossed the lighted doorway, passed into the hall and then vanished into a room on the other side of the corridor’. Taylor claimed to have gotten a ‘distinct look’ at the figure and saw that it was a man wearing ‘what appeared to be a long, white drape that could have been a doctor’s coat’. The sighting reportedly only lasted a ‘few seconds’.
Taylor was so ‘shocked and startled’ that he ‘let out a yell’ and grabbed his friend’s jacket. He then ‘demanded’ that his friend turn on a light and help him to ‘examine the room the man had vanished into’. They were not able to find anyone else in the area and the room the figure had walked into before vanishing reportedly had only one way in and one way out.
“I am not sure why it affected me in that way but perhaps it was the setting, the figure’s sudden appearance, my own anxiety — or likely all of these things. I doubt that I was the first person to see this mysterious apparition on the fourth floor and it’s unlikely that I will be the last. However, this sighting put Waverly Hills into a unique category for me in that I will firmly state that I believe it is haunted. Usually, for me to do that, I must have my own unexplainable experience that goes beyond a mere bump in the night’ or spooky photograph. In this case, I had actually seen a ghost and at the time, I could count the ghost sightings that I had had on two fingers. Waverly Hills is haunted and for me, seeing was believing.”https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/waverlytb (American Hauntings, 2020)
PORTSMOUTH DAILY TIMES
Andrew McManus, Contributing Columnist at the Portsmouth Daily Times, went with nine friends to stay overnight at Waverly Hills Sanatorium on May 22nd in 2019. McManus’ friend Kyle James had booked the trip with his wife Shannon and ‘happened to have two people back out at the last minute’ so McManus and his girlfriend Hannah Stanford went with them instead along with another friend Sean Dunne.
McManus had reportedly ‘done some research’ on Waverly Hills and knew that it was known as one of the most haunted places in the world but claimed that he was still ‘not prepared’ for the experience.
The group was taken on a walk around the complex as their guide, Ernie, gave them ‘a tour of everything inside the building’. After about an hour of being on the tour McManus reportedly ‘swore’ that he had seen Dunne walk into a room before trying to follow him but found no one there.
Later their guide took them to one of the ‘operating rooms’, turned off his flashlight and began trying to ‘speak’ to the spirits. The spirits, according to McManus, tried to communicate back through ‘turning the light on and off’.
“Of course, I was standing the closest to the flashlight and thought. ‘WONDERFUL!!’ We were skeptical of this. Was it a parlor trick? A trick flashlight? There are other articles stating how you can fake this. I don’t know if it was real or if it was fake, but I will say others in our group used the flashlight on their own and had some of the same results.”https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/features/entertainment/38412/our-night-in-waverly-hills-sanatorium (McManus, 2019)
About two hours into the tour their guide took them back to their ‘HQ’ which was in the buildings ‘gift shop’ where there was running electricity and water, their snacks and extra clothes. From then on the group were left on their own.
Later in the night McManus was reportedly ‘staring at the bottom of a door’ when something started crawling towards him. He described the shape as being brown and white and bigger than a dog. McManus believed he may have encountered the spirit known as ‘the creeper’ that their guide had told the group about earlier in the night.
“I jumped probably 5 feet in the air because I thought whatever it was, was going to run into my feet. Immediately I asked if anyone else saw it and no-one had. I don’t know what it was, but I can promise you it wasn’t even midnight and I saw whatever it was as plain as looking at the sky. I was/am no longer a skeptic.”https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/features/entertainment/38412/our-night-in-waverly-hills-sanatorium (McManus, 2019)
The group ‘finished out the night’ by going through some of the more haunted rooms, including room 502. There they found that someone had ‘placed baby dolls’ for the spirit, possibly named Sarah, in her room. Later they reportedly found one of the balls belonging to the little boy spirit named Timmy sitting between the dolls.
- The Dark Histories Podcast – Waverly Hills: The History & The Hauntings
- Astonishing Legends – Lockdown at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium
- And That’s Why We Drink Episode 20 – Fun Times in the Body Chute and Em’s Hairy Torso