A Little History
The Sanatorium sits on land that was originally purchased by Major Thomas H. Hays back in 1883. However the Major wanted his daughters to attend school, so he started a single room school house, then located on Pages Lane. Lizzie Lee Harris was hired to teach at the school and it was her fondness of Scott’s “Waverley Novels” that may have lead her to name the school house ‘Waverley School’. It’s believed that as Major Hays liked the name he chose to name his own property Waverley Hill.
The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital kept the name after they purchased the land and opened the Sanatorium. 1908 saw the construction of the Sanatoriums original building, a two-story frame building with a hipped roof. This was completed and Sanatorium opened fully on the 26th July 1910. At this point the building had been designed to house up to 50 tuberculosis patients.
Tuberculosis was a very serious disease at the time and this unfortunate to be affected with it were isolated from any general public and placed somewhere they could rest, remain calm and have access to plenty of fresh air. This is why Sanatoriums were often placed on higher ground surrounded by woodland, all to assist with the patients recovery. As Jefferson County saw tuberculosis become an epidemic, the little Sanatorium on Waverly Hill was filled with over 140 people. It became greatly evident that a larger hospital would be required to house those suffering in order to allow them to continue to live without having contact with the general population.
In order to cope with the demand Waverly Hills soon grew in size and became a self-contained community. It had its own post office, water treatment facility, had its own fruit and vegetable gardens, and even raised its own meat to slaughter. The whole population of Waverly; patients, doctors, nurses and staff all became permanent residents “on the hill”. Which oddly was an approach that was totally contradicted by visiting day, where many of the patients would receive visits from their loved ones. Something which seems a little foolish in my book considering the contagious nature of tuberculosis you would have thought any contact would have been restricted.
The huge facility that can be seen today, albeit a little worse for wear, dates back to October 17th 1926, when it first opened. Construction had started two years previously, in March 1924. This version of the Sanatorium was designed to house over 400 patients suffering with Tuberculosis. At the time it was built, Waverly was considered to be one of the most well equipped and modern facilities of the time. In 1961 the discovery of antibiotic that successfully treated tuberculosis meant that the Sanatorium would soon become obsolete. So, it was closed down and quarantined, before being renovated. Then in 1962, the building reopened as Wood Haven Medical Services, which was a geriatric facility. However by 1981 the state had also closed Wood Haven too.
The Haunted Sanatorium..
Given the magnitude of death, suffering and varied approaches to treatment explored at Waverly, its certainly not unexpected really that the location has established itself as one of the worlds most haunted locations.
It’s also had its fair share of visitors from TVs well known paranormal shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. What brings ghost hunting teams back to this now famous location time and time again though?
It seems as if the Sanatorium itself can have a paranormal effect on most of those that visit. Regardless of the individuals being sceptic or believer, medium or investigator; experiences come to most when they visit. Especially when walking the derelict hallways with little light too. Are these paranormal experiences or the psychological effects of walking through a derelict darkened building at night.
The brief research that I have done on Waverly seems to mention the fifth floor on a regular basis. It has been speculated that the fifth floor may have housed mentally insane tuberculosis patients, although I have not managed to confirm this as yet. Like I said brief internet research.
The fifth floor consists of two nurse stations, a linen room, a pantry, a medication room and two medium sized rooms. One of these rooms is room 502 and in itself has become the subject of many a Waverly story. The most prominent being that where visitors have witnesses movement in the window or heard a disembodied voice order them to ‘get out’!
The fifth floor does seem to be the subject of many an urban legend that’s associated with Waverly too. For example, one story says that back in 1928 the head nurse in room 502 was found dead in that room. She had allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from the light fixture. It was also alleged that she was 29 years old at the time and pregnant, but still unmarried. Its believed that her depression over the situation lead her to take her own life, but her body may have been hanging there for some time before it was discovered.
Its also believed that another nurse jumped from the roof patio in 1932, falling several stories to her death. The nurse in that story also worked in room 502. Although these urban legends are still to be substantiated, they still persist to play a large part in the Paranormal stories that surround Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
Over many years now there has been considerable paranormal activity reported throughout the location. These range from strange ghostly sounds, slamming doors, light anomalies, objects have been thrown at ghost hunters, apparitions have been seen in doorways and along corridors, and so much more.
Would you spend the night at Waverly Hills?
I have to admit, although I have never been to Waverly Hills or the US the Sanatorium definitely makes its way onto my paranormal bucket list of places to investigate. One day with any luck I will give the place a visit that’s for sure.
Waverly Hills is a perfect example of what I call a ‘horror story’ location. The location has an interesting history that is fundamentally related to suffering, death and most likely mental illness too. All this during darker times make for the perfect ingredients that draw ghost hunters in. Don’t get me wrong I am not discounting any of the suggested activity or experiences, as its not my place to do so, as wasn’t present at the time and haven’t interviewed these individuals either. However this colourful history along with the fact that the location stood derelict for some time and to an extent still is, helps to generate those urban legends in the first place.
Its without doubt that Waverly Hills Sanatorium does have something about it and some great stories too. The question really remains; would you spend the night to find out if those stories are true?
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Sources : – www.therealwaverlyhills.com, www.prairieghosts.com
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