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“Historical Site That Leaves You In Awe”

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Ranked #22 of 172 things to do in Louisville
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Waverly Hills Sanatorium is on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places. The massive five story hospital was built in 1926 and sits atop Waverly Hill today. It housed 400 patients and was one of the largest facilities of its kind. Waverly served the community through decades of the worse TB outbreak in the country. After closing in 1961, due to the introduction of life saving antibiotics, the hospital reopened in 1962 as "Woodhaven Geriatric Center" which operated the facility until 1982 when it was closed by the state. Ravaged by years of neglect, the present owners have breathed new life into the building by conducting tours though the facility in effort to restore it to a useful asset for the community once again. Waverly has earned her place as one of the most haunted places in the country and has been host to many films and TV shows. During tour season (March – August) Waverly offers several options of visiting. *2hr. Introductory Paranormal Tour which includes a 20 film then a walk through the building.*2hr. Historical walk through tour held one Sunday each month*Public or Private overnight sessions for ghost hunting enthusiasts. For all tour or overnight reservations or inquiries contact the office open daily 9am to 5pm Monday - Friday.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Chicago
Level Contributor
100 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Historical Site That Leaves You In Awe”
Reviewed 14 July 2011

I've broken my review done into several parts because it's never easy reviewing a haunted location.

Reservations/Price: Reservations are made over the phone and they are incredibly polite. If you opt for an 8 hour hunt, which is what I did, be prepared to pay $100. Yes, it is a bit pricy but goes towards the restoration of the building.

Location: Believe the site's directions. The road you need is just off to the left once you get into the golf course's parking lot. After reading much on this site, I was expecting a grand drive to the site. It's not. LOL It's a short drive to the gate. The gate is not open prior to the tour starting so if you try to trespass, you might regret it. There are cameras stationed throughout and they do watch them.

Gift Shop: Snacks and drinks. Don't expect to be able to buy a meal. If you want that, bring your own. Various souvenirs as well as batteries, flashlights, etc. The prices were quite reasonable from the drinks to the shirts, especially on the larger sized tees.

Tour: The max for a tour is 40 people which is nice. Groups are broken down in half and then into smaller groups from there. One group goes to certain floors while the other group goes to another. Around midnight there is a short break and they switch locations for the groups. History and paranormal experiences are given. The place is HUGE! Be prepared to walk a lot and have a killer leg work out from the stairs. There are five levels as well as a body chute that if you venture into it is 1,000 feet total (to the bottom and back up) at a 45 degree angle. If you have any medical conditions, i.e., asthma, heart disease, pregnant, etc. do use common sense. It can be a bit strenuous at times. The stairs are brutal. The hike back up from the death tunnel is a bit intense. I am asthmatic and I opted to do the full length of the death tunnel (aka) body chute. I paced myself and though a bit winded was fine. Please do not take my personal choice as your own. Everyone handles levels of exertion differently. This is given solely as an FYI that if you have a medical issue the environment can be taxing.

Overall Experience: I was a bit bummed that you couldn't roam the site freely. Let me clarify this. You are free to roam the floors your group is brought to for the allotted time. Given the size of the structure, I can understand it for safety purposes. The volunteers do roam about if you have questions and there are some in a designated area should you need help or have questions. Unfortunately, you do get rude people that have to be all loud and ignorant. This is not Waverly's fault, however, if you do complain to the volunteers or they catch you being loud and scaring people, action is taken. Everyone wants to have an experience but forget to be considerate of their fellow investigators.

As for "Is Waverly Haunted?", that is up to personal views. There are some that will dispute the fact a place is haunted even if they are provided evidence. I did experience things that were not logically explainable. Voices on digi recorder that weren't heard at the time. Anomalies in photos. Being touched. Cold spots. The most disturbing floor for me was the 4th and it is reportedly one of the most haunted floors.

Visited May 2011
Helpful?
8 Thank mzdov
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Grundy, Virginia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“A little disappointed but still fun.”
Reviewed 8 July 2011

When touring The Waverly Hills Sanatorium, you pay for a 2 hour tour of the facility. But I feel you should know up front that you might spend 90 minutes in the sanatorium if you're lucky. It was fun to see, and definitely a life experience that I wanted. Waverly is creepy, being quite run down and cryptic. The first 40 or so minutes of our trip was spent signing in, going through the gift shop, and then watching a movie that was probably 20-30 minutes on the sanatorium. So the tour was rushed. They had a tour guide in the front, and a guide in the back, to make sure everyone stayed together. They wouldn't hardly let you take pictures because they were rushing through the tour. With all the bad out of the way, we still had fun, it was a place I've wanted to see all my life, and I'm glad we did it. Just don't go into it expecting a leisurely stroll through the building.

Visited June 2011
Helpful?
5 Thank KatieKhaos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“One of the most haunted places in America, and definitely the most haunted I've ever been in.”
Reviewed 15 June 2011

Creeeeepy. As. Heck. I've hung out here during Halloween before, and they actually offer overnight stays, and if u really want to see a ghost with your own two eyes, I suggest here over anywhere else.

Helpful?
6 Thank Tonycastillo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berea, Ohio
Level Contributor
23 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
“Outstanding Piece of 'Haunted History!' Don't Miss It!”
Reviewed 27 May 2011

NOTE: It’s a good idea to set your GPS to find the Bobby Nichols Golf Course (located @ 4301 East Pages Lane, Louisville, KY 40272) to make finding Waverly Hills Sanatorium an easy task. The historic building is located a bit off the beaten track, but once you find the golf course, you’re there.
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First things first…I am skeptical by nature, so am not overly-inclined to believe in the so-called “paranormal.” That being the case, I will say this review does contain references to three incidents that at least gave me some occasion to wonder about the possibility there are such things as ghosts and that these beings are present and active at Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
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Waverly Hills Sanatorium was opened in 1910 as a place where individuals diagnosed with tuberculosis could get rest, fresh air and good food in hope of achieving a cure. The facility grew over the years until it reached its present, ominous mass. Thousands of people died within its walls until its closing in 1961 because tuberculosis was being cured by streptomycin. The building was then decontaminated and reopened in 1962 as a nursing home. There are many tales of elder abuse connected to the place and that, to me, is far more tragic than the deaths of tubercular patients. The facility was finally closed in 1981 and remained abandoned until its purchase in 2001 by private owners, Tina & Charlie Mattingly.
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After driving alongside The Bobby Nichols Golf Course on the evening of our scheduled tour, the road narrowed and cut through lush woods, terminating at a gate where we had to wait until 7:30 when vehicles were allowed to enter. Then came our first view of the behemoth! Looming above the vast parking lot, the hulking sanatorium was foreboding, to say the least. Arriving, as we did, during gloaming, made it even more so. Although a number of windows had been replaced and the building was undergoing restoration, there was still a feeling of dereliction and decay which rendered it at least an 8 on the CFS (Creep Factor Scale).

Our tour took place on a Friday night…8:00PM to 10PM ($22 be person). Being springtime, the sun had not yet gone down by 8, but this proved to be somewhat fortuitous as it provided enough ambient light at the tour’s beginning to really see the long-abandoned rooms; however, halfway through, the sun had fully set, so we could experience the place in darkness. The best of both worlds!

Before the tour started, we were herded into a restored building that serves as a Gift Shop. A word of warning: if you are on the 2-hour tour and they try to sell you a flashlight, don’t bother. Bring your own and make it small—you are only allowed to use them to illuminate stairs as you travel. You can’t use them to investigate anything.

Be sure to sign the required waiver when you get inside or you may be left behind while others get started. No one bothers to announce this needs to be done, so we found ourselves among a handful of people hurrying to sign a waiver holding the owners free from any liability in the case of an accident while the rest of the group headed into the building.

Oh—yes—but first, we had to sit through a full 30 minutes of video before being allowed into the building. This was about 20 minutes too much. After the initial historical video (which was quite interesting) we had to watch overly-long clips from episodes of “Ghost Hunters” and “The Scariest Places on Earth.” This seemed a poor choice of time usage and was frustrating as we were anxious to SEE the sanatorium, not footage of other people seeing it. I think the owners would do well to do away with all but the brief historical clip.

Once the video ended, we were, at last, allowed to enter Waverly Hills!

The lion’s share of the tour was taken up with moving down the buildings many long corridors, stopping at places of interest such as the morgue, operating theatre, kitchen, typical patient’s room, etc.. Quite fascinating. It was eerie to consider all that transpired in those vast brick environs, but there were the three aforementioned highlights I’ll now record:

THE THIRD FLOOR

This is a spot where it is alleged many see so-called “Shadow People.” After we entered the main corridor, the guide split us into two groups and each was herded to the connecting arm of yet another hall. Our guide selected a gentleman wearing light-coloured clothing and instructed him to walk about 100 feet down the hall, away from the tour group. He was soon largely-enveloped by the darkness, but we could see the vague outline of his body if we looked hard enough. He was instructed to peer down the remaining length of corridor (out of our view) and tell us if he saw anything. He reported that he did and several tour group members claimed to see some “Shadow People” in the hallway directly in front of us.

My companion and I saw nothing, but we did make our way up to the front of the group and when the gentleman returned we asked if we could walk down. Our guide said we could, so we set off into the darkness to see for ourselves.

Gazing into the blackness, we could make out a faint light coming in from a distant window at the end of the hall. As we looked at it, the light would occasionally vanish—as if an unseen “something or someone” was moving back and forth in front of it. Interesting!

We then began to look at the hallway itself. Although it was very dark, we could see faint light filtering through the open doorways. My companion said she saw a humanoid “Shadow Figure” moving towards her and then vanishing. As I looked in the same direction, I saw what appeared to be a group of similar figures shuffling along, staying close to the far wall. Then, a large and more well-pronounced “Shadow Person” seemed to race directly towards me—not walking, but moving in a manner suggestive of flight—though the legs didn’t appear to be moving.

While I am fairly certain this was an optical illusion, it was, nevertheless, quite FUN!

THE CAMERA MALFUNCTION

At one point during the tour we stepped onto an open area on the roof where patients who were doing quite well once sat with visitors. It was going on full dark, but there was enough ambient light for us to snap a number of photos and that light, coupled with the flash, gave us some nice images; however, that changed inexplicably when my companion aimed our camera at a gargoyle affixed to a distant parapet and snapped a photo. The camera balked, but recorded the image. The problem came when trying to take subsequent photos of the same view. Our camera refused to cooperate…the shutter would operate, but the image on the LCD screen was merely a ghostly outline of the gargoyle or nothing at all. This happened for 11 photos and I would be inclined to say it was merely a result of the low light except for the fact that as soon as we tried to shoot a part of the parapet where the gargoyle was not in frame, the camera resumed its normal. No settings had been changed. The depth of field was virtually identical. Nothing was really different.

Coincidence or “ghostly interference?” Who can say? But I will at least allow for the possibility of something beyond our current level of understanding being responsible.

THE BODY CHUTE

For me, the highlight of the tour came at its conclusion when we were invited to visit “The Body Chute,” a 550’ tunnel used to transport many of the tens of thousands of corpses “generated” in the sanatorium to awaiting hearses, well out of the view of those still struggling to survive and recover.

A number of our group declined to even enter. My companion and I, however, happily took our place at the back of the line and joined the slow parade of travelers descending into what was, for countless thousands, the final exit from Waverly Hills.

Because the chute itself is slick and smooth, we were not allowed to walk on it. Accordingly, we took the steps which run alongside the chute and can accommodate two people across. The line was long enough that the individuals at the front had already made it to the bottom and turned around by the time we were three-quarters of the way down. This reduced the flow of traffic to single file in either direction.

I didn’t have much time to focus on the way down because it was dark and I had to keep my eyes on the beam from the flashlight my companion was holding or risk slipping and falling on some of the debris that littered the floor; however, when we got to the bottom, the place was ours. The last two people down were turning around to go back, so we had a few moments to relish the eerie blackness that descended when the flashlight was turned off. I snapped a few pictures of the old metal door (beyond which lay dark woods) and then we began the lengthy ascent. Every once in a while, I would pause and turn back to the engulfing black behind us and flash a picture. Alas, the only things that showed up were a few orbs, and I am not a believer in orbs as anything more than insects or reflected light from water droplets or dust so I can’t say there was anything that would count as even remotely being a candidate for the “paranormal.” That being said, the feeling in the tunnel was interesting if only for the thought of all those corpses that took the one-way trip out of that place.
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So ended our tour of Waverly Hills. A fun 1.5 hours of wandering the halls which contained the misery of so many....for so long.

I would recommend this tour to anyone fit enough to climb numerous flights of stairs (and 550’ of tunnel for those so inclined). Young children and those who are suggestible and/or easily-spooked would probably do well not to enter the chilly and foreboding halls of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. For the rest of you, have at it!

Visited May 2011
Helpful?
20 Thank Cemetery_Man
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Springfield, Illinois
Level Contributor
61 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“Creepy beyond belief, Scariest place I've ever been.”
Reviewed 9 April 2011

Toured Sept.2010. Booked 2 hour tour by phone. It goes Tuesday night only with 50 person max. so call way ahead as its always sold out: $22. Starts with 30 minutes of film clips from tv shows that have shot there, then into the old hospital. The bottom floor and morgue were closed for Halloween set-up, but that's where the disappointment ended. 5 stories, 500 bed capacity, it's a big place that was abandoned for 20 years in the 60s and 70s. Vandals have broken and spray painted everywhere adding to the effect. Many ghost encounters are recounted, research online prior to visit and learn more. The 4th Floor was the scariest place I've ever been in my life. Myself and 2 other volunteers walked down the hallway one at a time while rest of group watched. You could see shadow people swirling around as they walked slowly out and back. The hair on my legs and arms were standing straight out and the girl in front of me got her hair pulled twice, she really freaked out. Lastly back at ground level to see the creamatorium and the "Body Chute" . A long service tunnel that they wheeled the dead to awaiting hearses, so the other patients would not see the parade as they averaged 25 deaths a day during the TB peak of the 1930s. OVERALL: Not easy to find, not easy to get ticket, but if you are brave enough to tour what ghost researchers always rank in their top 5 haunted places in North America, definately make plans to visit.

Visited September 2010
Helpful?
7 Thank ruzz2112
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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