Back before the sanatorium was ever thought of, the land was purchased by Major Thomas H. Hays in 1883. Major Hays needed a school for his daughters to go to, so he started a one room school house down on pages lane and hired a woman whose name was Lizzie Lee Harris as the teacher. Miss Harris loved her tiny school nestling against the hillside, and remembered her fondness for Scott’s Waverley novels, so she named her little school house “Waverley School.” Major Hays liked the peaceful sounding name so he named his property “Waverley Hill” and the Board of Tuberculosis Hospital kept the name when they bought the land and opened the sanatorium.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium began with a two-story frame building, with a hipped roof and half timbering. Construction on this building began in 1908, and it opened on July 26, 1910. This building was only designed to safely accommodate 40-50 tuberculosis patients. Tuberculosis was a very serious disease back before antibiotics were discovered. People who were afflicted with tuberculosis had to be isolated from the general public and placed in an area where they could rest, stay calm, and have plenty of fresh air. Sanatoriums were built on high hills surrounded by peaceful woods to create a serene atmosphere to help the patients recover.
Tuberculosis was reaching epidemic proportions among the public in Pleasure Ridge Park, Kentucky. The little TB clinic was being filled with over 140 people, and it was becoming very obvious that a much larger hospital would have to be built.
The massive collegiate gothic style sanatorium that you see in the 1926 photo to the left still stands on Waverly Hill today. This sanatorium could accommodate at least 400 patients. It was considered to be one of the most modern and well equipped facilities when it opened. Construction of this sanatorium began in March of 1924. It opened on October 17, 1926 to administer patients. Waverly functioned as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961. After antibiotics were invented, it was closed down to be quarantined and renovated to be opened again in 1962 as WoodHaven Medical Services. The facility remained a geriatrics center until 1980, when it was closed by the state.
Click here to learn about treatment and life at Waverly Hills.