When I was recently conducting my research on Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky, I came across a variety of interesting images: vintage and current. The place was erected between 1924 and 1926, when it finally opened, and has seen a lot of despair, pain, suffering and death in its long tenure as, first, a tuberculosis hospital, and then as a geriatric center during the 1960s and 70s. It finally closed in the early-1980s due to allegations of abuse. which fueled the rumors of the structure’s haunted nature even more.

This is indeed a very unique place with stories going back decades. Most of the legends, such as the death toll of 63,000, were dispelled some time ago (the sanatorium never held that many patients, so how could that many have died there? The actual death count fell somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000), but the results of various paranormal investigations have concluded the old hospital is haunted nonetheless, which is no surprise. Six-to-eight thousand deaths are still a staggering amount and more than enough to substantiate the suspicions of a paranormal state, especially since most of those deaths were traumatic. Tuberculosis was a terrible and relentless disease at the time, and it did not discriminate or go easy on its victims. Naturally, Waverly Hills Sanatorium would have many lost and despondent souls lingering within its walls.

In any case, the visuals I found allude to history and haunting. Depictions regarding the former were insightful; the latter offered some convincing and some not.

There is one image in particular that stuck out to me and drew me in. I found it at this site. The image appears grainy, as if drawn with charcoal, and so I thought it might be a fake. The webmaster of the site, however, alludes to its authenticity that it was taken at Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Still, the image doesn’t match real photos of passageways at Waverly Hills, such as this one and this one, but a friend identified it as an EMF shot (which explains its grainy appearance), and not one taken at the sanatorium (he suggested somewhere in the western part of the United States, perhaps in Colorado or Nevada). To any of this, I cannot be certain or attest either way, but I would be curious to find out.

Now, look close. There’s something in the darkness. What do you see? Share your observations here, but please, don’t go to the site until after you have studied the picture, as the webmaster’s assessment will likely influence your visual perception.

And that is the whole point: Perception means everything in research; it plays into our understanding of why we study and how we organize data and and how we develop our knowledge on a given subject. The exercise challenges observational and perceptive skills. A few of my friends did the same, and I will share their results with you at a later time.

So go ahead and try. Tell me what you see.