Waverly Hills Sanatorium


Main Building at Waverly Hills

Location: Louisville, Kentucky


In 1910 Waverly Hills was opened by Jefferson Country to help deal with the large number of cases of tuberculosis. The disease was particularly bad in the area, due to the large amount of swamp land, which is a breeding ground for the bacteria.

The hospital was continually expanded over the years to allow increased capacity. At its peak the locations could handle over 400 patients.

The hospital closed in 1961 due to advances in medicine that caused a dramatic drop in the number of tuberculosis patients.

The building was re-opened in 1962 as Woodhaven Geriatric Center which was a nursing home. The home treated elderly patients with advanced stages of dementia and severe handicaps. The center was closed by the state in 1982 due to patient neglect.

The land that Waverly Hills was built on was originally owned by Major Thomas H. Hays. He built his home on the land, which was a great distance from the nearest school. Hays, who had two daughters, built a school house for his children on the property. The school house was named “Waverley” school house. They kept the name for the hospital when it was built, however, one of the E’s got dropped.

Room 502

room 502

Entrance to Room 502

Rumor has it that a nurse became pregnant out of wedlock with the owner of the sanatorium – she also found out that she had contracted tuberculosis. Some say that the nurse hung herself in the room with lightbulb wire. Another variant of the story is that she was murdered by the owner when he found out she was pregnant. He then staged the hanging.

Death Tunnel and Body Chute

A tunnel was built under the main building which lead to the bottom of the hill. This allowed an easy way to bring supplies and also allowed staff an alternate route to enter and leave, without having to climb the steep hill. However, the tunnel later took on another use. When tuberculosis was at its peak, someone was dying at the hospital every other day. With such a high death rate the tunnel was used to remove the bodies, which kept them out of patient view. The bodies were lowered down a chute and transported out though the tunnel. This tunnel is often referred to as the “Death Tunnel”.

Number of Deaths

Legend has it that more than 63,000 people died at Waverly Hills.  This however is an extremely inflated number.  Some independent researchers suggest that 162 people died at the location in 1945.  Considering the hospital was opened for 50 years a number in the low thousands is more likely.  With that being said, Waverly Hills was no stranger to death.

Present Day

Plans are currently under way to turn Waverly Hills into a 4 star hotel.

Pop Culture

  • In “American Horror Story: Asylum”, the old haunted hospital is eerily similar to Waverly Hills.  They even make reference to a chute and tunnel that were used to remove bodies.  However, no one attached to the series named Waverly Hills as an influence.

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