The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Asylum in Kentucky

Updated on December 15, 2018
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has had paranormal experiences her entire life. These experiences have fueled her passion to write about all things supernatural.

Haunted Waverly Hills Asylum

Said to be the "scariest place on earth", Waverly Hills Asylum is located in southern Jefferson County, Kentucky and has been standing since before World War II. Many paranormal investigators, including TAPS, have done investigations within the bone-chilling walls of the Waverly Hills Sanitarium. With numerous spine-tingling tales of disembodied voices and screams, ghostly apparitions, and grisly deaths circulating the internet and the world about Waverly Hills Asylum, I can confirm 100% that this hundred-year-old brick building is indeed haunted.

Waverly Hills Sanitorium - the TB Hospital Days

When Waverly Hills opened its doors in the early 1900s, its main purpose was to be a hospital for Tuberculosis patients. At first, the Waverly Hills Hospital consisted of two floors and was a wooden building; however, with more and more people contracting the TB illness, the Waverly Hills Sanitorium had no choice but to expand. As one can see in the video posted here, the Waverly Hills Sanitorium was home to many TB patients, both young and old. Due to a lack of western medicine advancement in the 1930s, the TB patients at Waverly Hills Sanitorium underwent some dangerous experimental surgeries and strange medical procedures.

One particularly rough TB surgery that was performed at Waverly Hills involved the removal of two to three ribs per procedure, in order to allow the lungs to expand further and therefore heal. This surgery was known as thorocoplasty and usually did not end in healing the failing patient's lungs. Another failed procedure performed at Waverly Hills was known as artificial pneumothorax, which was a procedure in which the patient's lungs were inflated by a doctor. This never worked and usually made the patient's health condition weaken even more. Fresh air, sunlight, diet and exercise were also a part of the early twentieth century's medical knowledge on how to cure a TB patient. Tuberculosis continued to run rampant until the 1940s when streptomycin was invented.

During the TB Hospital days at Waverly Hills Sanitorium, a presumed sixty-four thousand patients died within the gloomy building's walls. Some of the most infamous ghosts roaming Waverly Hills' hallways and rooms may have once been TB patients at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium. This includes a young girl named "Mary" that presumably haunts the third floor of Waverly Hills to this day.

Waverly Hills' Death Tunnel (aka Body Chute)

During the Tuberculosis treatment times of Waverly Hills Sanitorium, there was a tunnel known as the "Death Tunnel". Why did they call it the Death Tunnel? The reason is because the hospital employees would transport the dead patients' bodies down the tunnel and out to a place where their bodies could be removed from the premises for burial. The employees and Waverly Hills Sanitorium officials believed that if their remaining TB patients noticed many bodies leaving the hospital that they would lose the desire to fight through the illness, and so the Death Tunnel was built to keep the dead hidden from the sight of the living...or barely surviving patients. The Death Tunnel is 300 feet long and if one is to walk down it about a hundred feet, one would enter pitch black darkness! There's barely any flow of air in the deepest part of the tunnel, though there are vents that pop up through the ground to the air above every so many feet. Many of the employees would use the Death Tunnel as a means to get to their cars and stay warm in the winters! I don't know how these people didn't die of fear in a dark and dank place, filled with the stench of death such as this place.

Many paranormal investigators talk about the Death Tunnel and how it is the creepiest part of the Waverly Hills Asylum. Actually, a horror film was released in 2001 titled "The Death Tunnel" and was based on this morbidly horrifying tunnel of corpses. There have been many other ghost hunting shows that have also done segments within the Waverly Hills Death Tunnel.

Woodhaven Medical Center - Patient Abuse & Experimentation

Once Tuberculosis could be cured with modern medicines, the Waverly Hills Sanitorium closed its doors for a brief period in 1961. In 1962, the Sanitorium re-opened its doors as the Woodhaven Medical Center for geriatrics (senior citizens). You can actually go on the web and look through a listing of the employees and also patients that attended Waverly Hills/Woodhaven Medical Center. Fortunately, I didn't find any last names relating to my family; otherwise, I might have been upset to think that someone from my family-line might have undergone horrible treatment at this gloomy and morbid place.

There are many rumors circulating through TV shows and internet articles that strange and cruel experiments were performed on the geriatric patients of Waverly Hills, then known as Woodhaven Medical Center. Many of these rumors have been proven to be untrue, but how are we to know for sure unless we actually lived it? While most are claimed to be untrue, some are definitely fact - including electroshock therapy and lobotomies. Electroshock therapy, in case you don't know, is a procedure in which the doctor administers waves of electricity into the patients head and body, in hopes to "shock" the patient into sanity. This form of psychiatric therapy was really wide-spread throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

And as far as lobotomies go - well, let's just say this is a pretty grisly procedure. Worse than electroshock therapy. To sum up the procedure, there were rods inserted into the patients' heads in order to cut the "connections to and from the prefrontal cortex, the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain" (wikipedia). While most will deny that the lobotomies were still being performed in the 1960s, it has been said that surgical tools for this particular psychiatric surgery have been found at Waverly Hills/Woodhaven Medical Center. Whether these tools were used during the TB patient days or during the Geriatric Ward days is not for certain, but I could estimate that they were most likely used on the geriatric patients.

How horrible to think that these people were relying on the help of doctors and nurses at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in order to get be nursed back to health. Instead, they were treated poorly, experimented upon, and abused. No wonder such drastic paranormal phenomena has and does occur at Waverly Hills. In fact, the abuse and experimentation on the Woodhaven patients was so bad that they were forced to close their doors in the early 1980s (specifically due to patient mistreatment!)

Waverly Hills Ghost Pictures

Little Boy ghost
Little Boy ghost
Mary's Ghost?
Mary's Ghost? | Source

The Many Ghosts of Waverly Hills

Today, Waverly Hills Asylum has fallen into a state of dilapidation and constant defilement. There are ghost tours that are given in the building and are regulated by the previous owners, though I don't plan on signing up for a tour at this place anytime soon! The energy that emanates from Waverly Hills, even merely through pictures and videos, is so heavy that I can't bare to stare at the pictures too long! Images of hopeless and mistreated patients overwhelm my mind and my heart begins to feel their pain. Death could have even been a release to the people of Waverly Hills...the lucky ones who found a way out, at least. While death did come to many, there are still numerous lost spirits of the patients from Waverly Hills' TB and geriatric days still roam the halls of Waverly Hills.

Ghostly screams can be heard within the walls of Waverly Hills on any given dark night. One particular ghost that is said to wander around the third floor of Waverly Hills is known as "Mary". Supposedly Mary was a young girl, brought to Waverly Hills in the 1940s for treatment of Tuberculosis. She died and her spirit has been trapped on the third floor of Waverly Hills since her untimely death. Some people say that Mary will play hide and seek with you, if she's feeling playful enough. Many ghost investigators have seen Mary and some even claim to have caught her on camera. Another popular ghost of Waverly Hills is a little boy whose bouncing ball can be heard undulating through the hallways of Waverly Hills. Funny enough, when researching Waverly Hills and how the hospital was set up so many years ago, the hospital actually had a playset on the roof for the children. I'm not sure if it was for the children patients or just visitors, but either way, there is said to be a lot of paranormal activity on the roof of Waverly Hills. Perhaps the ghosts of lost children?

One of the most frightening apparitions seen at Waverly Hills Asylum is the tormented ghost of an elderly woman who runs around the main entrance of Waverly Hills, with chains around her arms and bleeding wrists. It has been said that she screams as she is running. One psychic who gave her opinion on this particular ghost said that she was an abused geriatric patient during the Woodhaven Medical Center days and she feels as if she has been chained to the place...forever waiting for her loved ones to come release her. The bleeding wrists signify the fact that the employees would chain her down by the wrists - sometimes so badly that they would bruise and bleed.

Perhaps the most well-known ghost story of Waverly Hills Asylum is the ghost story of room 502. The story goes that two separate nurses committed suicide in this exact room and that both of their ghosts haunt the room. There have been many readings taken in this room, many being positive readings for hot paranormal activity. People have seen the ghost of a nurse in a white uniform traipsing around room 502.

In addition to these very present ghosts, shadow people run rampant at Waverly Hills Asylum. Orbs have been caught in pictures taken throughout the building, as well as other streaks of light and strange dark figures. Strange smells have been found lingering from the cafeteria and kitchen areas, as if there is food being made...without electricity or anyone around to make it...anyone alive, that is. And speaking of electricity, the lights at Waverly Hills Asylum flicker and also turn on and off...obviously there is no electricity running through the entire building but many people have seen this phenomena occur.

My belief is that because so many people have died within Waverly Hills' walls, obviously there are going to be some ghosts hanging around, but the thing is that most of the ghosts of Waverly Hills Asylum are there because of the experimentation and abuse during the geriatric hospital days. These people were old and ready to pass on to a better life, but because they were so abused and neglected in their final days at Waverly Hills, their souls feel hopeless and trapped here. Some of them don't realize they are dead, while others do but they don't know where to go. The hopelessness and sorrow that engulfed them in their physical life at Waverly Hills has held them captive in this place in the afterlife. Mix these entities with possible evil spirits summoned from ritualistic Satanist groups performed here, you get a massive negative cloud of energy. In fact, maybe there is a portal present within Waverly Hills Asylum's bricks and wood.

The negative energy that flows out of Waverly Hills Asylum must be overwhelming to sensitive people. In fact, it is probably overwhelming to people who don't believe in ghosts or energies at all! With such grisly things that occurred at Waverly Hills Asylum, it is no wonder the place is haunted with every kind of ghost and apparition one could think of! While Waverly Hills Asylum is a truly intriguing place for hotspot paranormal activity, I definitely don't plan on attending a haunted tour of Waverly Hills Asylum in the future!

Your opinion:

Do you think Waverly Hills Asylum is indeed haunted?

See results

© 2011 Kitty Fields


Submit a Comment
  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    3 years ago from Summerland

    I'm well aware of the fact that it is still used today. I'm a nurse and have worked in the mental health field. Thanks for the comment.

  • Melfina the Blue profile image

    Melfina the Blue 

    3 years ago

    Interesting article, but you're wrong about electroshock therapy. It's now called electroconvulsive therapy and is still used fairly often. They use much lower voltages and you're asleep (just like you'd be for surgery). It can cause memory loss and is generally used for people with severe depression, mania, or drug-resistant depression.

    Otherwise a very good article!

    Source for ECT info

  • Georgina_writes profile image

    Georgina Crawford 

    4 years ago from Dartmoor

    I've worked in more than one asylum like this, as well as old victorian hospitals. Most seem to have a long, dark underground corridoor in the basement, used for quick access to different areas and for quick transportation of equipment, and, yes, bodies. They're usually stuffily warm as well as dark and creepy.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    4 years ago from Summerland

    Too true!

  • TimArends profile image

    Timothy Arends 

    4 years ago from Chicago Region

    That death chute reminds me of the chute at the hospital recently in the news that was used carelessly for transporting ebola specimens! Now that is a real death chute!

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    I think all state hospitals and sanatoriums are haunted. The old State Hospital at Madison Indiana is haunted according to many reports and we have a friend who's dad worked there and he says horrible things happened behind closed doors.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    You left some things out

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    5 years ago from Summerland

    David - Very true! Thanks for reading.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    I've had a couple of paranormal experiences that rattled me. Would love to go to Waverly Hills for a night tour. Nothing get your blood pumping faster than a good scare.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    5 years ago from Summerland

    Loriscalf - I don't know, but I'm sure it's possible.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Have any of these spirits ever follow anyone home?

  • Raevyn14 profile image


    6 years ago from Tecumseh, Oklahoma

    I am indeed fascinated by waverly hills past and spirits. I love to do research on the historic building. I think the hub you've posted has everything except the spirit of Mary on the 3rd floor, she is about 12 yrs and she wants to make friends with the living, she means no harm to people. The only spirits that want to harm the living are the spirits from Woodhaven, spirits of woodhaven are angry and have known to attack the living.

    There have been things being thrown at visitors, ghost hunters have been pushed, scratched. There are countless EVPs at waverly hills, and its famous for shadow people on the 4th floor

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    7 years ago from Summerland

    cresentmoon - Yes, it is a very sad place indeed. I don't know that I could handle visiting this place, as I might be overcome with the feelings of sorrow and death. Thanks so much.

  • Cresentmoon2007 profile image


    7 years ago from Caledonia, MI

    I too saw this one on Ghost Adventures and thought it was a wonderful episode. This place is so sad and dark. I hope that happier energies fill it soon and that those poor ghosts find peace. Still, very eerie and thank you for sharing.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    7 years ago from Summerland

    I hear ya!

  • Fullerman5000 profile image

    Ryan Fuller 

    7 years ago from Louisiana, USA

    I have yet to see it in person. I wouldn't mind checking it out, but definitely not alone.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    7 years ago from Summerland

    Ohhh, awesome! Have you ever seen it in person? It's truly a creepy place. I wouldn't even want to do a haunted tour of it, there's so much negativity radiating from that place!

  • Fullerman5000 profile image

    Ryan Fuller 

    7 years ago from Louisiana, USA

    I have seen many investigations at this place. My aunt and uncle dont live to far away from this place. Great work and good illustrations.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    7 years ago from Summerland

    bigbird31 - Yes, I've heard that they've explored and did a show here, also. Though I'm not a huge fan of Ghost Adventures...I feel like they fake a lot of their investigations. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and let me know if you're brave enough to visit Waverly Hills!

  • bigbird31 profile image


    7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Saw this on ghost adventures. Spending a night in a place like this alone or with a friend would be a life changing experience I imagine. I believe in ghosts but have never had a personal encounter. This is something I should do before I die. This would be a really cool place to experience.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    7 years ago from Summerland

    dahoglund - I agree! There was talk that it would possibly be turned into a hotel and resort...not sure how happy it would be with all the ghosts running around that hotel, though! Thanks for commenting, as always.

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 

    7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    The place should be put to happier uses if at all.


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