The Whaley House is considered to be among the most haunted houses in America. And unlike many haunted houses in the United States and beyond, visitors are encouraged to visit and tour The Whaley House, located in the historic Old Town district of San Diego, CA.
The Whaley House was named the most haunted house in the United States in the Travel Channel’s documentary, America’s Most Haunted, and numerous other publications and television shows have placed The Whaley House and its haunting ghosts at the top of many other “most haunted” lists.
The History of The Whaley House
The haunted house and property on which The Whaley House sits has served many purposes since it became the home of Thomas and Anna Whaley in the late 1800s.
As visitors to The Whaley House Museum will learn, the Whaley House, in its many incarnations, has been a county court house, San Diego’s first commercial theatre, an election polling location, a school, a billiard hall and a general store that was owned and operated by Thomas Whaley.
Why is the Whaley House haunted? As tourists who visit the San Diego historical site will learn, The Whaley House property has been the site of much emotional distress and several traumatic deaths over the years, leading many to believe that the people who died in The Whaley House and on the grounds haunt the house and the property to this very day.
Perhaps the longest-dwelling ghostly resident of The Whaley House is the ghost of James “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was convicted of grand larceny in 1852 and hanged from the gallows that once stood on the land before The Whaley House was built in 1855.
The Whaley House website says, “The local newspaper reported that he ‘kept his feet in the wagon as long as possible, but was finally pulled off. He swung back and forth like a pendulum until he strangled to death.’
Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it dissuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there.”
Yankee Jim’s ghost is said to make occasional appearances in the haunted house, but more frequently, heavy footsteps can be heard moving through the house. Reports of Yankee Jim’s ghost date back to the time when the Whaley family lived in the house, which even they believed was haunted.
A paranormal apparition believed to be Thomas Whaley’s ghost is also said to haunt the Whaley House. The ghost of Thomas Whaley is most often seen at the top of the staircase, wearing a frock coat and pantaloons.
The ghost of Anna Whaley is also said to haunt The Whaley House. Her ghost is most often seen drifting through the downstairs rooms or the garden. In fact, television personality Regis Philbin has said publicly that he saw Anna Whaley’s ghost during a visit to the house in 1964.
Several other ghosts are said to haunt The Whaley House, including the apparition of a young girl. Legend has it that a young playmate of the Whaley children died when she ran into a low clothesline in the home’s back yard.
The Whaley House isn’t just said to be haunted by human ghosts – many visitors have also reported seeing the ghosts of animals at The Whaley House. In particular, the ghost of a dog is said to run through the haunted house, his ears flapping. Some wonder if this ghostly dog is the spirit of the Whaley’s terrier, Dolly Varden.
Visiting the Haunted Whaley House in Old Town San Diego, CA
Anyone who is interested in visiting a genuine haunted house this Halloween (or any other time of the year, for that matter) is encouraged to visit and tour The Whaley House, located at 2476 San Diego Avenue in historic Old Town San Diego, CA.
The haunted Whaley House and the accompanying Whaley House Museum is open to the public. In fact, this certified haunted house draws in more than 100,000 visitors each year.
Many visitors will bring cameras to take photographs at the haunted Whaley House, and many report capturing photographs of ghosts, light orbs, plasma and other mysterious supernatural apparitions.
The Whaley House’s hours of operation vary depending on the season, so visitors to this haunted house should visit The Whaley House website or call The Whaley House at 619-297-7511.