At first glance, I was hardly intimidated by the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. during daylight hours, and from the parking lot entrance, the exterior resembled a state college - uniform brick in routinely square structures. none of the flair i expected from a hospital built in the 1920s. the inside, too, was a letdown. it appeared more as a sign of suburban decay where bored teens went to drink and screw than a place rich in paranormal activity.
However, its history and mind-bending architectural layout made for an eerie experience, heightened to a frenzy of sound and shadows once the sun disappeared over the Kentucky hills.
The main WHS building was equally disquieting. Four floors of askew hallways, each exactly the same - so much so that everyone at some point was found wandering around the corridors, lost. furthermore, there was only one main hallway on each level, flanked by rooms with wide open windows. this caused endless shadows criss-crossing each other across the hospital floor - an effect that added to one’s disorientation.
The top three floors were designed specifically for TB treatment. Back in the early/mid 1900s, no one knew the proper way to handle the disease, so their methods seem cruel and ill-advised by todays standards. at WHS, these floors have huge open-air terraces running the length of the building. it was believed that fresh air was good for diseased lungs, so nurses would wheel the gurney-bound patients out on to the terraces and leave them there all day - regardless of the weather. There are a few archive photos showing patients outside, covered in snow, while nurses watched from indoors. I wonder who was making use of the shuffleboard court.
Another example of malpractice came from the radical surgeries used to to treat the worst cases. At that time measures went to far as to purposefully collapse the patient’s lungs in an effort to smother the infection. It was here, in this operating room, where i experienced an unexplainable phenomena.
One of the key instruments used by paranormal investigators is a “Mel Meter” - a handheld device which generates a small elecro-magnetic force field around its antenna. If anything breaks the field, the Mel Meter will make a beeping sound. the closer something gets to the antenna itself, the more frantic the meter will beep. If the antenna is touched or grabbed, the meter goes crazy with lights and sounds. Normally, the best use of this is to place it in the middle of the floor and step away, insuring that no one in your party is contaminating the evidence. Then, you start asking questions into the void. If you’re “lucky” the Mel Meter will register a disturbance in the air around it, indicating a presence very very close by. in my eyes, this was modern day snake oil and was immediately skeptical of this machine. but, in the operating room in the middle of the night, that Mel Meter started beeping and flashing. okay, it kinda had me spooked, but still i dismissed it as junk science... that is, until it talked. when used properly, the meter can be a means to communicate with spirits, who can respond to our questions by touching the meter to a series of yes/no questions - like a supernatural morse code. on this night, i had a complete conversation with the spirit of a patient who died on the operating table at Waverly Hills Sanatorium, gathering information about his life and death through a series of beeps and flashes emanating from an electro-magnet in a pitch-black empty room.
For the remainder of the week, i wandered around the halls of Waverly Hills with an intensified sense of awareness and curiosity. i wanted to speak to every spirit in every room. i wanted to know the secrets of life and death. i wanted to learn from those who have experienced things we can only have nightmares about. i was hoping the investigators i would be working with here felt the same. if you were given the unique opportunity to speak to the dead, would you not seek real answers? instead, most amateur ghost hunters seek only evidence so their line of questioning is superficial at best, and downright mortifying at its worst. in places where the mentally disturbed were abandoned by humanity, it makes no sense to talk to the spirits about YouTube, when more logical interests would be apples or soup.
I began to get very morose in that place. i took to wandering the MC Escher corridors, taking in the simple beauty of decay - whether caused by Mother Nature breaking through the windows to reclaim her children; or from a 15yr old me, a six-pack of Milwalkees Beast and an isolated outlet for solitude and aggression.
Even though the first floor is now an annual haunted house and is painted and propped as such, and the top floors are all dizzingly alike, i was able to uncover otherwise unseen places with their own bizarre history... for instance, there was homeless man and his dog that lived, unnoticed for some time, behind the elevator on the 3rd floor. even after his was discovered, the staff was lenient towards this wayward soul. that is, until he was pushed to his death down the elevator shaft.
I was not the only one to let this place have a depressing effect one me: two nurses committed suicide from the higher floors - the weight of sickness, death and sorrow too much to bare.
At Waverly Hills Sanatorium, I would not find the answers i now sought; nor would i ever return to the peace of ignorant bliss which had previously blinded me. my only choice now is to press on anew in the hopes that my senses, now attuned to a unique frequency, will guide me towards the harmony of insight.
Possibly i will find it at our next location - but, judging by the stories i’ve heard about the upcoming prison, i might not want to be so in tune with another realm...