Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ep. 257 - Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Moment in Oddity - The Center of the Universe in Tulsa
Suggested by: April Barber

You probably were unaware that the “Center of the Universe” is located in of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. One just follows the brick path that leads to the railroad tracks at the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave just northwest of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. There one finds a marker indicating that the Center of the Universe has been discovered. And what proves that this spot is the Center of the Universe? A very weird and mysterious acoustic phenomenon. This phenomenon is that when one stands in the center of the circle and calls out, they will discover their voice echoing back at them like a private amplified echo chamber. And even stranger, the sound is echoed back much louder. For people standing outside the circle, they hear a very distorted voice. Legend claims that even a foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle and nobody would hear it outside the circle. Studies have been unable to prove what is causing the weird anomaly and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Born

In the month of May, on the 22nd, in 1859, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the second of ten children. He decided to get into medicine and attended the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School where he received a Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery qualifications in 1881 and an M.D. in 1885. One of his professors inspired him to create the character of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes made his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet, a novel-length story published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. It probably seemed odd to Conan Doyle's friends that he could create such a logical character who held to science when he himself was a big believer in the paranormal and routinely took part in seances. Conan Doyle addressed his beliefs in a short novel named "The Mystery of Cloomber," which was published in 1889. He wrote Sherlock Holmes stories through to 1926. He died in Windlesham, his home in Crowborough, Sussex in 1930.His funeral was held by members of the spiritualist community who celebrated his passing beyone the veil. On July 13, 1930, thousands of people filled London’s Royal Albert Hall for a séance during which Estelle Roberts, the spiritualist medium, claimed to have contacted Sir Arthur.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Tuberculosis was a horrible disease in which people had to watch their loved ones literally waste away before their eyes. For this reason, it was commonly referred to as Consumption and there were points in history when people actually believed that people suffering from TB were being attacked by vampires. One of the nicer locations built to help people with TB was Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. A group of us visited and toured this historical hospital where so many people met their final end at the hands of the dreaded disease. For this reason, the sanatorium is famously known to be very haunted. And for those of us that visited, I think most of us left convinced that some kind of supernatural activity is happening. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Waverly Hills Sanatorium!

Waverly Hills Sanatorium looms large when first approached. When you arrive at the gate, an employee comes down and instructs everyone to drive up the hill to a parking lot. The trees open up into a full view of the sanatorium when you reach the top of the hill. Despite the fact that it has stood abandoned for the most part for many years, the building looks to be in remarkable condition. The screens no longer stretch in the windows of the solarium, giving an eerie open feeling and gargoyles continue their sentinel duty at the top of the building adding to the creep factor. We were instructed to walk to a rear building for check-in and you immediately feel just what a presence the building is all by itself, minus the stories of ghosts.

Waverly Hills sits on a spot where a school once stood. Major Thomas H. Hays had bought the land in 1883 with the goal of building a school for his daughters to attend. That school was just a one room school house that was located on Pages Lane. Lizzie Lee Harris was hired to be the teacher and she named the school "Waverley School" after some novels named "Waverley Novels." Major Hays followed suit and named the property "Waverley Hill." The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital kept the name after purchasing the land and opening the Sanatorium. The original sanatorium that they built was not the large structure that stands today. The first was a framed building with a hipped roof and only had two stories. It could accommodate around 40 to 50 patients. The climate of Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, was conducive to the spread of TB and by the early 1900s, the county was hit hard. The original hospital was ill equipped to handle the amount of patients that would be flooding in. The city of Louisville started to plan a new hospital in 1911, but they had no intention of including admission of people suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.

The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital was given $25,000 to erect a new hospital for the care of advanced cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. In order to start the building, the patients from the City Hospital had to be moved to tents set up on the grounds at Waverly Hills. The new pavilion was finished in 1912 and could care for another 40 patients. A children's pavilion was added as well for both sick kids and the children of patients. The plan for Waverly was to continue adding buildings and it eventually became like many other TB properties. These properties would become self-sufficient mini cities with their own water treatment facilities, post offices and growing their own food. Waverly followed the same pattern. But eventually, there was a desire to build a larger structure and that is the building that still exists today

Construction began in March of 1924 on the brick, five-story gothic styled building. It was designed by architect James J. Gaffney. The sanatorium would be able to house up to 400 patients. It was designed to provide a variety of treatments and was considered state-of-the-art at the time, despite the fact that many of the treatments they used for TB, we would consider barbaric. The facility officially opened on October 17, 1926. One of the treatments offered at Waverly Hills was time out on the Solarium.These were large patio areas on the outside of each floor where patients would sit for hours to take in the fresh air and enjoy the peace of the wooded area that surrounded the sanatorium. There was an audio system set up where patients could listen to music and the radio station broadcasting from within Waverly Hills. Our tour guide said it was like the first iPod. Some patients would be left out here up to 13 hours and there are even photos that show that some patients would actually be covered in snow. For this reason, the first electric blankets were used here. Another treatment was time in the sunroom, which was a room with heat lamps that were to provide a feeling as though being in the sun. The more barbaric treatments included electric shock for people with TB of the brain and surgical procedures to remove ribs and muscle. One of the worst treatments was a process where a lung would be deflated because TB needs oxygen to survive. This treatment did help some people, but mainly ended up killing people.

The facility served as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961. In 1943, streptomycin was discovered and it proved to successfully treat TB. This eventually would make Waverly Hills obsolete and so it did close in 1961 with any patients still remaining being transferred to Hazelwood Sanatorium. The following year it reopened after renovation as WoodHaven Medical Services, a geriatric facility for people with mobility issues and dementia. This facility ran until it was closed by the state in 1981. This was supposedly due to patient neglect. Simpsonville developer J. Clifford Todd bought the hospital in 1983 for $3,005,000. Todd joined forces with architect Milton Thompson and the men planned to convert it into a minimum-security prison for the state. Waverly is surrounded by a neighborhood and obviously, these people were not about to allow a minimum security prison in their backyard. The men switched to a plan to build apartments, but that fell through as well.

Robert Alberhasky bought the property in 1996 with the hope of turning it into an arts and worship center. He wanted to also build a replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue that is in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was going to be 150 feet tall and 150 feet wide and placed on the roof of the sanatorium. Donations fell through and the project was cancelled the following year. Tina and Charlie Mattingly then bought Waverly Hills in 2001. The Mattinglys hold tours of Waverly Hills and host a haunted house attraction each Halloween, with proceeds going toward restoration of the property. Restoration is going well, but is slow. The rooms that we saw that were restored looked great. Waverly Hills Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

It is no secret that Waverly Hills is haunted. And while I generally leave it up to you to decide if a place is haunted or not, I can tell you that I believe something I cannot explain is going on in this building. There are stories that two nurses killed themselves in Room 502, one by hanging and the other jumped to her death. They are believed to haunt the fifth floor and one has shown up in photographs. The smell of fresh baked bread has come from the former kitchen. Many ghost hunters claim that the ghost of a small boy named Timmy roams the halls. Chelsea explained that there are no records of a Timmy at the sanatorium and she doesn't believe the stories. The creepiest story in connection to Waverly is that of The Creeper. The Creeper is a dark and terrifying entity that crawls along the floors and the walls and many believe it is demonic in nature. Others believe it’s a human spirit that's been twisted by the trauma of tubercular death. People who see it are filled with dread.

The Cult of Weird website reported the following experience, "As we continued our conversation I began to notice a small orb-shaped pinpoint of light moving across the second floor solarium. It was the size of a firefly but a blue-white color, and it would disappear only to reappear with perfect timing in every other window. My companion asked if I could see a blue light. I said that I could. We watched as it traveled the entire length of the west side of the building heading east. At first it appeared as if it was inside the building, but as it progressed it moved up above the solarium windows in front of the exterior brick. When this happened it became two separate identical points of light, spaced so closely they almost touched each other. When the light neared a bend in the building—the sanatorium is roughly question mark shaped—we lost sight of it. The light(s) traveled roughly 350 feet in approximately 10 seconds."

Out tour started at the Body Chute. This was a long chute that went downhill a very long way and we walked down most of it on some concrete stairs next to it. A track system would carry the bodies to the bottom where families could pick up the bodies or the local funeral parlor would collect them. The reason this was used was because so many people were dying, the administrators were worried that it would depress the patients and they would give up their fight and all hope when they saw so many of their compatriots die. The chute is very creepy and smells. Our guide, Chelsea, told us a story about an experience that she had at the Body Chute. She was giving a tour and had her back to the chute. She noticed that several people in her group were getting startled looks on their faces and one of them told her to turn around. When she did, she saw a white misty figure at the bottom of the Chute. She has experienced enough at Waverly Hills that she thought to herself, I'm okay as long as that just stays where it is. When she turned back around, she saw that her entire group had run away. She turned around again to see why they had run and the white figure was running straight at her.

We spent some time in the refrigeration room and Chelsea asked for a volunteer. One of our group, Quin's boyfriend Matthew, volunteered. Chelsea said,"Hi kids" and explained that she was going to ask the children who used to play hide and seek in the refrigeration system if it would be okay for Matthew to enter one of the units. She also told Matthew to ask permission. Chelsea goes through this process ever since one of the people she put in the unit on a previous tour told her that the children had said that they needed to be asked for permission for someone to enter. She then shut him up inside the unit. She explained that on occasion, the refrigerators had to be used for bodies, so they would move the vegetables and meat out and put the bodies in. People who are closed up in the unit routinely feel their hair being pulled or the shirts being tugged upon. Chelsea played an EVP that a guest had recorded on their phone. You can hear the guest say "Ready or not" and then a child's voice responds "Here I come."

The man who was serving as our "caboose" told me a story about an experience he had on the fourth floor. A group had arrived in a chauffeur van and the driver had joined the tour. The driver was bringing up the rear with the guy telling me the story and they distinctly heard the sound of dance music floating up the hall and they also could hear the sound of feet dancing on the floor. The former cafeteria of Waverly is haunted by the ghosts of a little boy and girl and there is also a resident ghost cat. People feel it rubbing up against their ankles. There was a chapel at Waverly for services and was also used for arts and crafts. Outside one of the windows, an apparition appeared in a picture. We saw the picture and it was creepy as hell. And this was up on the third floor, so nobody could be standing outside the window.

We went inside Lois' Room and said hi to her. Chelsea told us her story. She shared a photo of Lois who passed away in the room at the age of 28 from TB. She suffered from it for 8 years and spent all of those at Waverly. Her sister, Audrey, also had the dreaded disease and joined her in the room. She managed to recover and lived to be in her 90s. Investigators have picked up EVP of a female voice saying "Audrey" as though Lois is searching for her sister. A flowery smell is sometimes detected and she likes to play with Chelsea's hair. We then went to an area where there had been an elevator shaft. A homeless man and his dog were thrown down to the bottom of this shaft and reports claimed that it had been a ritualistic murder. The homeless man had lived in the building for quite some time and he was very protective of it. This is where I had my first paranormal experience of the evening and it was shared by the whole group. I clearly heard a dog whimper while Chelsea told the story. i thought perhaps it was the power of suggestion until Chelsea asked if we all heard it and everybody said yes. Then a little bit later there was another whimper followed by a door slam. And we again heard the dog whimper a third time before we left the area. It was clear. It was audible. I have no doubt that the ghost of a dog had joined us...or at least a residual whimper.

We went to the fifth floor, which opened up onto the roof. This is said to be the most active floor. Chelsea told the story of the nurse who hung herself in the center room. She had fallen in love with a doctor who was married and carried on an affair with him. She discovered she was pregnant and she told him about it. He rejected her and in her dismay, she committed suicide. Some stories claim that she lived in Room 502 and hanged herself there, but Chelsea said that was not true. She had done it in the public area. I went into 502 where a Spirit Box session was taking place and made this recording. Before I made the recording, we were let loose to do some investigating if we liked. I had turned off my recorder to save the battery. I use an H1 Zoom and you have to pull down and hold a switch to turn it on. I did this and watched the display light up. I pushed record and nothing happened. I noticed the display was off.I thought that the battery had a half charge when I looked at the display, but perhaps I was wrong. The only way the Zoom will turn off that way is if the battery dies.Otherwise, you have to hold down the switch just like turning it on. I turned it on again and saw clearly that half the battery was still good. I tried hitting record again and nothing. It had turned off again. I thought that maybe the battery really was going bad, but i tried a third time.This time the recorder stayed on for 15 minutes and recorded. Deana of TwistedPhilly shared a creepy experience she had up her on the fifth floor in her Patreon bonuscast about Waverly Hills.

The fourth floor was by far the creepiest floor and most of the Spooktacular Crew felt very uneasy here and even a little sick. Before we went through the metal door, Chelsea told us about some teenagers who were ransacking the place and they got locked in by something. They had brought an axe with them and tried to open the door with it, but had no luck. The marks in the door are still there. Whatever is on this floor does not seem to be human. There are supposedly shadow figures everywhere and Chelsea instructed us on how to look down the hallway and blink our eyes so they wouldn't play tricks on us. I think I saw two shadow figures and this was verified by the Caboose guy who was standing next to me.

Visitng Waverly Hills is an experience that every paranormal enthusiast needs to have. I look forward to visiting again. Nothing scared me here, but i definitely feel like I had experiences. Are the former patients and staff still wandering the halls in the afterlife? Is Waverly Hills haunted? That is for you to decide!

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