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Whaley House

Some Say Whaley House is the Most Haunted


Whaley House

The Whaley House

© 2008 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
  • Hours: Hours vary. Check their schedule
  • Reservations: Not required, except for private tours
  • Cost: Admission charge, higher after dark
  • Location: Old Town
  • How Long: Allow a couple of hours
  • Best Time to Visit: After dark (on the selected days it's open late) if you're looking for a spooky time. Private, after-hours tours are also offered

The Whaley House is a handsome, Greek Revival home, built in 1856 as the first two-story brick building in Southern California. It now stands as the oldest two-story brick building on the West Coast, but all those sturdy bricks aren't enough to keep the spirits out (or in).

From the outside, Whaley House looks pleasant, even cheerful, as it stands along a busy street in Old Town. But inside, it shows a darker face that reaches back into San Diego's more tainted historical roots. The trouble may have started when the house was built over an old cemetery and near the gallows site, but it's not over yet.

Legends and ghosts haunt Whaley House, levitating furniture, playing the organ and wailing around. Among the sightings are:

  • Yankee Jim Robinson, who reportedly stole a boat and is believed to have hanged himself in or near the house. Ghostly sightings of Yankee Jim rowing a skiff have been reported.

  • A girl by the last name of Washburn is said to have died in an accident at the house, perhaps while playing with the Whaley kids. Guests report seeing her playing throughout the house.

  • An unnamed, swarthy-complexioned woman in a print dress, wearing a cap over her dark hair and gold hoop earrings stays in the upstairs bedroom.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Whaley and their baby are also said to haunt the Whaley House. Guests have reported smelling Mrs. Whaley's elegant, lavender-scented perfume or Mr. Whaley's cigar smoke, or seeing her rocking in her chair and hearing the piano playing.

  • Besides the spirits, objects (including a kitchen cleaver) move inexplicably around the house.

Hunting the Whaley House Ghosts

The ghosts aren't malevolent, or so most people say. Television star Regis Philbin may disagree. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Philbin, then a local celebrity, tried to spend the night in the Whaley House with a companion. Sometime after midnight, they saw something move from the study into the music room, but when they turned a flashlight on it, it disappeared.

More Haunted Things in San Diego

Getting to Whaley House

The Whaley House
2476 San Diego Avenue
San Diego CA
Whaley House Website
If you're going to Old Town, the Whaley House is a short walk away. From I-5 in either direction, take Exit 19 toward Old Town Avenue, turn right on Hortensia Street and left on San Diego Ave.

You'll find a few two-hour un-metered parking spaces on the nearby streets, or park free all day in the large public parking lots on Harney and Twiggs Streets.

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