San Diego Hauntings – Whalley House


What is the Whaley House?:

The Whaley House is a historic house in San Diego’s Old Town State Park. Formally dedicated as a historic house museum on May 25, 1960 and open to the public ever since, it is a favorite place for Old Town visitors. Over 100,000 people visit the Whaley House annually, and it is owned by the County of San Diego and managed and operated by the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO). The Whaley House is located at 2476 San Diego Avenue 92110.

Why is the Whaley House famous?: 

Well, it’s less about it being an old house that became prominent in the formative years of San Diego. No, the reason why the Whaley House is famous is because of its past stories and tragedies. And that it’s supposedly haunted by ghosts of its tragic past, which makes it a favorite place to visit during Halloween in San Diego.

What is the history of the Whaley House?:

Thomas Whaley came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He relocated to Old Town San Diego and set up various businesses. He purchased the property in September 1855, which had been the site of the hanging of the infamous Yankee Jim Robinson in August of 1852. He first built a single-story granary on the property, with bricks manufactured in his brickyard on Conde Street. The adjacent two-story Greek Revival style brick residence was designed by Whaley and cost $10,000 and completed in 1857. The home, acclaimed as the “finest new brick block in Southern California” by the San Diego Herald. Whaley also established his general store in this residence for a period.

Over the years, the Whaley House also functioned as San Diego’s first commercial theater, the county courthouse, and the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place. After a number of family tragedies, Thomas Whaley built a single-story frame home for his family at 933 State Street in downtown San Diego and the family moved into the new residence, leaving the Whaley House vacant for over two decades.

Is the Whaley House really haunted?:

Not just another San Diego urban legend, significant events, such as the suicide of Violet Whaley in 1885 as well as the hangings which occurred on the property before the house was constructed, have given the Whaley House an air of mystery. So much so that the the Whaley House was designated as an official Haunted House by the United States Commerce Department in 1960. The only other official haunted house in California is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. The Whaley House grounds was reportedly haunted even before the house was built and the Whaley family moved in. The first ghost to be reported was the ghost of James “Yankee Jim” Robinson who was hanged in 1852 on the property that was the site of a gallows before Thomas Whaley purchased the property and built the house.

In addition, four members of the Whaley family died in the house, including the suicide of Violet Whaley by gunshot.

Is there proof that ghosts are in the Whaley House?:

According to the Travel Channel’s show “America’s Most Haunted,” out of all the haunted houses in the United States, the Whaley House is the number one most haunted. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported numerous times since since the house first opened as a museum in 1960.

Even the Whaley family reported hearing footsteps in the house, supposedly those of the hanged Yankee Jim Robinson. In 1964, when he was a local TV host, Regis Philbin reportedly sighted the ghost of Anna Whaley. Various Whaley family members have purportedly been spotted over the years, and even sightings of ghosts of animals that once resided at the house.

Can anyone do a ghost sighting?:

Every last weekend of the month, the Whaley House Museum offers a late night paranormal investigation tour co-hosted by The San Diego Ghost Hunters (sdGH),a group that specialize in assisting historical landmark owners in discovering or confirming paranormal activity. The tour is limited to a small number of guests who are allowed to bring cameras (still and video) and audio recorders. During the tour, guest investigators are educated on the history behind the legendary spirits that are said to haunt the house and are instructed on how to operate and utilize basic paranormal investigation tools for searching out the house’s mysterious residents.

Additional Whaley House Info:

There are lost of architectural gems to visit around Old Town. There are theVictorian collection of homes in Heritage Park. And then there is the mysterious Whaley House. The Whaley House is located in historic Old Town San Diego at 2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110

Please arrive at least 30 minutes before closing to allow enough time to tour the house. All tours are self-guided, but docents are always available to answer questions and provide additional information. No advance reservations are necessary for groups of less than 15.

Daytime Admission (10am-5pm)
$6 for adults · $5 for seniors (65 & over) · $4 for children, (ages 3-12)
Free for children 2 and under
(Includes admission to the Adobe Chapel Museum, 10am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday only)

Evening Admission (5-9:30pm, Thursday-Saturday only)
(Last tour begins at 9:30pm)
$10 Adults · $5 Children (ages 3-12)
Free for children 2 & under

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