Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Owners saving sanatorium
Pair picture B&B at Waverly Hills
By Darhiana M. Mateo
That's what Charles and Tina Mattingly, who bought the old Waverly Hills Sanatorium in 2001, see when they look at the imposing four-story structure spanning 180,000 square feet.
More specifically, the Valley Station couple envisions a "haunted" bed and breakfast complete with a rooftop restaurant, among other ideas.
The Gothic-style building, a former tuberculosis hospital from the 1920s, is infamous for the hundreds of people who died there -- and some say paranormal events occur there.
But for the Mattinglys, who have poured thousands of dollars into renovating the building and have worked for five years to breathe life into the once badly deteriorating building, it's a piece of history.
"It deserves to be saved. No matter how much it's been beaten up, it's still a beautiful building," said Tina Mattingly, who started the Waverly Hills Historical Society to raise money to renovate the property just off Dixie Highway on East Pages Lane.
Five years ago, Waverly Hills was falling apart. No windows were left in place, the surrounding 30 acres were covered in garbage, and the structure was considered an asbestos hazard.
Now, the grounds have been cleaned, more than 100 new windows have been installed, the roof over the cafeteria wing is fixed, and the brick walls and stone are under renovation so the rest of the roof can be restored in the spring.
Charles Mattingly's father, who recently passed away, started working at the tuberculosis hospital when he was 17. The younger Mattingly grew up hearing stories of what a beautiful place Waverly used to be and of the patients who lived out their last years there.
Mattingly has high hopes for the property, which had been unused since the early 1980s. The sanatorium closed in 1961, and the building was reopened in 1962 as Woodhaven Geriatrics Hospital, which closed in 1981. Mattingly purchased the property in 2001 for almost $250,000.
"We feel like we're doing something … that could give back to the community," he said.
The couple wants to open a bed and breakfast on the second and third floors, with a rooftop restaurant, and room for medical offices on the first floor.
"We decided that it needed to be something where the public can come and see it, and be free to leave. We know that whoever moves in there is not going to want to stay," said Tina Mattingly, alluding to the building's haunted reputation. "I know as a bed and breakfast, people would come to stay a night or two and love it."
The couple has started raising money by taking in donations for haunted house tours, and they held a month-long haunted house in October.
They were able to open the building for tours after the Pleasure Ridge Park fire marshal inspected it and found it to be safe, a condition set by the Louisville Metro Department of Inspections, Permits and Licenses.
They estimate that they raised well over $100,000 with the tours.
The Mattinglys also are in the early stages of putting together a development plan. They will seek investors once the city approves the work.
According to Tina Mattingly, a Louisville architect estimated that renovating the place would cost almost $45 million. But she and her husband hope to accomplish the task with considerably less, partly through volunteer help.
Shirlene Edwards, a Valley Station resident who also has family ties to the property, is one of almost 40 volunteers who have dedicated many hours to helping the Mattinglys renovate Waverly Hills.
Edwards' grandfather was a butcher and her grandmother worked in the laundry room of the tuberculosis clinic. Edwards said she had a vague memory of visiting the place as a child and admiring the landscaping.
"I remember the rolling green hills. … I used to tumble down those hills," Edwards said.
Tina Mattingly said she is trying to come up with other ways to raise money.
Next holiday season, she hopes to invite local businesses to sponsor a room inside Waverly and decorate it for Christmas. The public can then donate a small amount to tour the rooms and vote on their favorite.
Although they recognize the renovation project is ambitious and will take years, Tina Mattingly said she is confident they'll get there.
"We're just trying to get it to a point where somebody can come in and say this could be something," she said. "We're trying to save a historic building. And we'll do it."
Edited by Nemorach, 20 December 2006 - 11:08 AM.