Our night in Waverly Hills Sanatorium

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

On May 22nd nine friends and myself had an overnight stay in Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll be the first to admit it. I wasn’t excited to go. I was nervous. At least a few times a week I get scared at my office when someone says “Hello” and my Mom is the queen of hiding behind doors and jumping out. I do love horror films and have always been interested in doing an overnight stay at a “haunted” location, yet I was dreading it!

My friend Kyle James had booked the trip with his wife Shannon and happened to have two people back out at the last minute. I told him I’d ask my girlfriend, Hannah Stanford, and see if she wanted to go. SHE WAS ESCTATIC. “I’ve been wanting to go there for years!!!” was her response. So, guess what? We were going to the Sanatorium.

A little back-story on Waverly Hills. It was opened in 1910 to combat tuberculosis, aka “TB” many considered TB to be the “White Plague.” Originally the hospital could only hold around 50 people. With the need for more space a growing concern the hospital expanded in the 20s and we have the building that still stands today. At its completion it could hold roughly 400 people. And had lost in the tens of thousands before closing. (We’ve heard anywhere from 40,000 to 68,000 people) Waverly Hills has been on numerous ghost hunting shows, the biggest known one is “Ghost Hunters” and they quipped that it’s one of the most haunted places in the world. I had done some research, but I was not prepared.

We arrive at the site under what’s left of the daylight. I put on my “brave” face and acted calm and cool. My friend Sean Dunne went as well (with a trick up his sleeve…) It was evident that he was a complete skeptic and I shared some of his opinions but like I said, I was still nervous. We take a walk around the complex and our guide, Ernie started to give us a tour of everything inside the building.

Roughly one hour in, I “thought” Sean had went into another room. Swore I saw him walk in there and went to follow him. Nope. Nobody there. We were in for a LONG night. Ernie took us throughout the different floors. The 4th floor was said to be haunted by a young boy named “Timmy.” He liked to roll balls on the floor, and this was apparent because other investigators had left balls (some with rattlers in them) throughout the Sanatorium. The 5th floor housed room 502. This room is said to be the most haunted in the whole area. Finally, Ernie takes us to one of the operating rooms. He turns off his flashlight and “speaks” to the spirits. They 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. Regardless, neat effect, and had most of our hearts racing.

Roughly 2-hours in, Ernie takes us back to our HQ, gift shop with running electricity and water where we housed all our snacks and extra clothes. We are on our own! Immediately Hannah and I went to the “Body Chute” Sounds like what it’s called. There was a tunnel that descended 500 feet normally used for maintenance. With deaths piling up with TB at its most extreme, the tunnel became where deceased patients were taken to try and avoid having living patient’s morale suffer as much as their health. We made our trek down the tunnel and the only way to explain the feeling (and the feeling most of the night) was just an uneasiness.

Eventually we grouped up, Hannah and me, Sean, Kyle and Shannon, and a few others. Great. Big group. Everyone is safe! NOPE…BATS. We were in a catch-22. Do we use the light to see through the hallways? We do that and, in some places, bats came at our heads. I’ve never dodged bats before, until that night. Looking back, it added an element to our night none of us had assumed would happen. Thankfully no one was bitten or hurt so I can now look back and laugh about our “friends” for the night.

Hours passed, and we took turns staying in groups, and Hannah and I going off by ourselves. I think she was testing me to see how brave I was. I would soon fail. First, not using the lights to avoid the bats, my right foot caught of the numerous balls in the hallway. I yelled and panicked, and everyone laughed! The biggest scare for me was roughly 30 minutes later. Ernie had told us about a spirit known as “The Creeper” something that walks on all fours. Very vague explanation. Listen, I’m not here to make you believe in spirits or make you think it’s all fake. I will tell you with our group, I personally, was staring at the bottom of a door and something came CRAWLING at me. Brown, and white, Bigger than a Dog. Still to this day NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS! 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 (so sleep deprivation wasn’t an issue) and I saw whatever it was as plain as looking at the sky. I was/am no longer a skeptic.

We finished out the night going throughout some of the more haunted rooms. Remember room 502. The most haunted room of all. Someone had placed baby dolls for the spirit (I believe her name was Sarah) in her room. We all took pictures of it. Later that night, one of Timmy’s balls was sitting between them. No, it wasn’t Ernie. One of our group members was deathly afraid early on and he couldn’t leave her unattended. No Scooby-Doo ending here. Just some unexplained occurrences which seemed to happen at every corner.

Just like any classic horror film, there’s always one final scare. Our group is walking throughout the halls, dodging bats and then we hear….an AIRHORN. Mr. Dunne decided to scare everyone with something he had clearly planned and hid the entire night. (Well played sir!) We all were skeptics in one way or another. I believe that everyone left there a little more curious about what could be. What was real? What wasn’t? I’m confident none of us can explain everything that happened and that makes for a pretty interesting night. A memory I will cherish, even if I saw “THE CREEPER,” and jumped higher than I ever have in my life. #Boyfriendmaterial. Sean said it best about our night at Waverly Hills. “Camping invites people to tell ghost stories, Waverly Hills invites people to walk around in one.” Check this place out!


By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist

Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development. He can be reached at andrew@eflowdevelopment.com or 740-981-9158.

Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development. He can be reached at andrew@eflowdevelopment.com or 740-981-9158.