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The Whaley House Is a Top Haunted Destination in San Diego

posted: 03/09/17
by: Sasha Brown-Worsham

San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. Right on the water with temperatures almost always in the 70's and 80's, it is a paradise by all accounts. But even paradise has some dark spots and the Whaley House in Old Town, San Diego is one of the darkest. A few years ago, Life Magazine dubbed it the "most haunted house in America." It's easy to see why.


The Whaley House Museum

Built in 1857, the home was constructed by Thomas Whaley, a wealthy California businessman with East Coast roots. The home was built on a graveyard, which some say may account for the numerous hauntings. Whaley and his wife had their first three children in the home before moving north to San Francisco for a time. There, they had three more children but returned to San Diego after the earthquake and moved back into their Greek Revival home.

The family suffered a number of tragedies. Their young son died at 18 months of Scarlet Fever. One daughter married a man who turned out to be a con artist looking for money. She was shunned by society and shot herself in the chest.

Whaley Family.jpg
Photo: Dread Central

The home itself has gone through many iterations. It had a store and a theater at different times, but when the family left, it fell into disrepair. In 1909 Whaley's oldest son Francis returned and restored the building to use as a residence and a tourist destination. He posted signs outside promoting its historicity and entertained visitors with his guitar. But the ghosts were still there and had been long before the family fell on hard times. The ghost of "Yankee Jim" was the first.

Stage (Whaley House)

James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon right where the house was built. Thomas Whaley watched the execution, but built the house anyway. And, according to the San Diego Union, "soon after the couple and their children moved in, heavy footsteps were heard moving about the house. Whaley described them as sounding as though they were made by the boots of a large man. Finally he came to the conclusion that these unexplained footfalls were made by Yankee Jim Robinson."

Guests to the home now report seeing the ghosts of Thomas Whaley and his wife. Things move. Sounds echo. Every week, there are ghost tours for people looking to meet the ghosts within.

More from Sasha Brown-Worsham

[via: Old Town San Diego Guide]

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