Monday, September 26, 2005
The living roam Waverly Hills
Convention-goers mix with sanatorium spirits
By Scheri Smith
The Courier-Journal

Goosebumps and cold chills abounded this weekend at the Mid-South Paranormal Convention
as thousands of ghost hunters and others curious about paranormal activity visited the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

The former tuberculosis hospital on East Pages Lane just off Dixie Highway, was the perfect location for the event, said Keith Age, president of the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society, the host group for the convention. This is the second year Waverly Hills was used. The convention began Saturday and ended yesterday.

Age said Waverly Hills is known around the world as a location of strange phenomena such as sudden drops in temperature or the slamming of doors.

"Waverly is considered the holy grail of paranormal activity," he said. "This is one of the most active haunts."

Age and other ghost hunters claim they have experienced the big building's mystery firsthand. Some even claim to have seen apparitions or shadowy figures there.

Some brave convention-goers stayed there overnight Saturday.

Lane Dunaway of Shively visited the convention yesterday and said personal experiences with things he cannot explain brought him to the event. Dunaway said that he had lived in a 110-year-old house and that he heard strange things regularly. Finding people who have had similar experiences is important, he said.

"It definitely gives you a sense that there's nothing wrong with you and that these things happen to other people, too," Dunaway said.

In addition to tours of the sanatorium, the convention also featured a variety of speakers, including Lynwood Montell, a folklorist who has written books about Kentucky ghost stories, and Rick Hayes, a paranormal communications consultant.

Hayes, of Jasper, Ind., said he relays messages from "those who have passed on" to the living. He called Waverly Hills an amazing place.

The spirits in the sanatorium "want me to truly understand the experience here at Waverly," Hayes said.

Waverly Hills opened in 1911 as a place for TB patients to rest and fight the disease, which is now treated with antibiotics that did not exist then. It was expanded in 1926 to four stories, with room for more than 400 patients. But many patients did not recover.

Because so many people died at Waverly, it has developed a reputation as a place where the spirits of patients still roam. It was featured on the "World's Scariest Places" television show in 2001.

Charles Mattingly and his wife, Tina, are the current owners. They bought it about four years ago and are trying to get it restored.

"It's a piece of history," Tina Mattingly said. "In my opinion it's been badly beaten and battered, and it's very disrespectful to the people that died here."

Despite all the potential spooky or scary things that some claim happen at Waverly, the really scary thing is the thought of losing it, Age said. That's why his organization is donating all proceeds from this weekend to help restore the building.

Members of the society estimated that they raised $10,000 throughout the convention.

"Everything goes back to the building," Age said.

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