How to Tour the Haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky

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Waverly Sanatorium sits on a wooded hillside near the Ohio River.
Waverly Sanatorium sits on a wooded hillside near the Ohio River. (Image: MaxPometun/iStock/Getty Images)

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium sits on a picturesque hillside surrounded by woods in southwest Louisville, Kentucky. From the outside, it appeared an idyllic place where those with tuberculosis could recover or spend their final days during a 1920s epidemic. Inside the hospital walls, state-of-the art technology treated patients with sometimes torturous methods. Nearly 6,000 people died at Waverly Hills, and some seem to still reside there in ethereal form. You can tour the spooky sanatorium on seasonal tours and chance face to face encounters with former residents.

What You'll See

Waverly Hills enjoys a reputation as one of the top haunted places in the U.S. Tours travel through all five stories of the hospital, taking in the morgue and the infamous "body chute" -- a long, dark tunnel that allowed hospital workers to roll the dead out of the hospital without upsetting other patients. On the third floor, you may see a rubber ball move mysteriously on its own. Perhaps the ghost of a child named Timmy moves the ball, or perhaps the movement stems from an uneven floor or a draft. Room 502 is another high point of the tour, where an unmarried pregnant nurse allegedly committed suicide, leaving behind anguished energy still felt by some today.

In Broad Daylight

Spend Sunday afternoon at the sanatorium taking a guided daytime historical tour. The tour lasts up to two hours beginning mid-afternoon and allows those interested in the building's Gothic architecture and history to get a good look in the light of day. Your tour guide will regale you with tales that touch on the hill's beginnings as the site of a one-room schoolhouse and its history as the 40-patient TB facility that preceded the present structure. The daytime tour takes place one Sunday each month from March through August.

In the Dark of Night

If it's ghosts you seek, book one of the sanatorium's paranormal tours. The basic tour, which runs on weekend nights from March through August, takes 90 minutes to two hours and has varying start times. For more in-depth exploration, book one of the four- or eight-hour public paranormal investigations that take place from midnight until early morning on weekend nights. You may also schedule a private tour for your group of 25 or more. The 90-minute private tours are not combined with the public tours, but take place during the same time slots. The four- and eight-hour private paranormal investigation tours take place Sunday through Thursday, when public tours are not conducted in the building.

'Tis the Season

When autumn chill has you thinking spooky thoughts, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium haunted house is ready to deliver a case of the goosebumps. The haunted house is open from early evening until midnight each Friday and Saturday from late September through early November. Taking place on the hospital's first floor, the seasonal attraction incorporates strobe lights and other enhancements for an ultra-creepy experience. You'll pay a per-person fee to access the haunted house and an additional parking fee that benefits a local charity.

Know Before You Go

Other than when the haunted house is open, you won't be able to access the grounds of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium without a tour reservation. Until 15 minutes before your tour time, the gate to the sanatorium remains locked. It closes 15 minutes after your tour's start time, and latecomers will forfeit their reservations. Children under 7 years of age aren't permitted on any tour, and an adult must accompany anyone under 18 years of age. Some tours -- such as the public paranormal investigations -- require participants to be at least 18.

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