Visiting Waverly Hills Sanatorium: The Hospital for Treating 20th Century’s White Plague Patients

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Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in the world. During the early 1900s there was a wave of sickness sweeping many parts of the world. Many people were suffering and doctors and hospitals were doing their best to keep up. It was dubbed The White Plague or consumption, but most of us know it now by the name tuberculosis. There were a great many hospitals and sanitariums erected around the country to help combat this pervasive disease–over 100–and Waverly Hills Sanatorium is one of the larger, more prominent ones. Now it’s rumored to be haunted.

The White Plague

Tuberculosis or consumption was a thing long before the 20th century. It’s quite ancient, being known to the ancient Greeks and even earlier. In its early days in modern history, it killed about one in seven people living in the US and Europe. Tuberculosis got the nickname, the white plague, from the paleness many patients came down with. It was understood that the disease was contagious, being passed through the saliva and other bodily fluids. It most often presented in the lungs, however it was able to infect other parts of the body, including the bones.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Then

In the late 1800s, bacteriologist Robert Koch presented his germ theory which helped physicians to understand more about how the disease spread. This led to the creation of sanitariums that were dedicated to the treatment of the White Plague. Waverly Hills Sanatorium was built in 1926 and housed 400 patients during the height of a decades long outbreak of tuberculosis. In 1961, the hospital closed due to the introduction of antibiotics that effectively targeted the white plague. Just a year later it reopened as Woodhaven Geriatric Center and was shut down 20 years later. As many people were improved and healed at Waverly Hills, just as many lost their battle and died here.  

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Now

The old hospital is said to be teeming with “life” now. It operated for quite some time, and undoubtedly lost many patients. It’s said that people who die under duress often linger on energetically for long periods of time. Waverly Hills Sanatorium has become a historical landmark that is popular among paranormal enthusiasts. In fact, it boasts being one of the most haunted places in America. The owners and caretakers of the dilapidated structure are raising funds to restore it by offering day and overnight paranormal tours, historical tours and even ghost hunts. There have been stories of spectres walking the halls, strange noises and eerie shadows. If you’re into close encounters of the paranormal kind, Waverly Hills is certainly worth a visit.

Waverly Hill was constructed to be a modern and hygienic solution for patients suffering from the white plague. But now it is a big tourist attraction for the curious and thrill seekers. There may be some strange things going on at Waverly Hills to pique your interest, so give it a go if you’re interested. The owners are working hard to restore the sanatorium and there are talks of turning it into a hotel, so keep your eyes peeled.