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Whaley House

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Front of the Whaley House in San Diego

The Whaley House is a remarkable icon in historic Old Town San Diego.

Its stately Greek Revival architecture is an impressive sight, while its mysterious past and mystical reputation cause quite a stir among visitors from all over the world. It is here that the spirits of many original Old Town San Diego citizens are said to roam from room to room and through many of the hallways. Known as the Most Haunted House in America, the Whaley House was the family home of Thomas Whaley.

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Thomas Whaley, his wife and their five children, lived in the home which was also the location of various Old Town organizations including San Diego’s first theater, the county courthouse, a school and the Whaley General Store. The Whaley children grew up in what was deemed the finest new brick block in Southern California by the San Diego Herald, and it is during those years that various tragic events may have initiated the reported paranormal activity. One such event, the violent suicide of Violet, one of the Whaley daughters, caused Thomas to build a new home in downtown San Diego and move his family there at once.

In 1890, Thomas Whaley passed away in the new home on State Street, never to return to the original estate. Abandoned for close to 20 years, the Whaley House was neglected and in poor condition until Francis Whaley decided to go back in 1909. After moving in, Francis began restoring the property and entertaining tourists by playing his guitar and telling stories about the house’s background. In the years that followed, most members of the Whaley family returned to live and eventually die in the brick house, including Francis who passed away one year after his mother Anna, in 1913.

The last surviving child of the Whaleys, Lillian, lived in the home alone until her death in 1953. The Whaley House became a historic house museum on May 25, 1960 and has been “spooking” and thrilling guests ever since. Some report seeing the ghost of Jim Robinson, who was hung in 1852, behind where the house was built. There have also been numerous reports of sightings of Thomas Whaley, his wife Anna and various other Historic Old Town citizens.

Is the house truly haunted?

One can only determine that for oneself. But the allure of this most significant San Diego landmark beckons more than 100,000 people every year.

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