Our visit to the home was actually by chance, realizing at the last minute that we were so close to this hotbed of paranormal activity.  Finding parking in the ample lots nearby our group walked down San Diego Avenue to the small, two story home and museum.  I can remember asking myself, “How haunted can a place feel in the daytime with all of these people around?”  Regardless, I lowered my inhibitions and doubt, fully opening myself up to the spirits that might lie within.

WhaleyHousePurchasing a ticket in the gift shop our group of four went straight into the front door of the home.  It was a busy day and there were plenty of people streaming in and out of every passage.  The old home creaked under the constantly shifting weight of the traffic inside.  Undaunted I immediately went into the courtroom in the home.  I sat in the gallery and tried to soak it in.

The Whaley House, at 2476 San Diego Avenue in Old Town San Diego is claimed to be the most haunted places in America The mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture home is fairly modest by todays standards.  In fact on a busy day the house can feel downright small. Construction on the house began as a granary which later became the courtroom. The two-story house and store addition was constructed by Thomas Whaley in 1857.  Whaley talked up the home during building stating, “My new house, when completed, will be the handsomest, most comfortable and convenient place in town or within 150 miles of here.”

Thomas Whaley

Thomas Whaley

Thomas and Anna Whaley had six children, Francis Hinton, Anna Amelia, Thomas Whaley Jr, George, Violet, and Corinne Lillian. Francis was the first, born on December 28, 1854 and was named after a business partner. Thomas Whaley Jr. was born on August 18, 1856. He suffered from Scarlet Fever at 18 months and died on January 29, 1858 in the Whaley House in Old Town. Anna gave birth to Anna Amelia Whaley on June 27, 1858.  Years later, after a failed marriage, daughter Violet, age 22, committed suicide by shooting herself in the chest with Thomas’s 32-calibre on August 18, 1885 in the family outhouse.  Hearing the noise her father dragged her limp body into the house and onto the couch in the parlor where she bled to death.  Her suicide note read…

Mad from life’s history,
Swift to death’s mystery;
Glad to be hurled,
Anywhere, anywhere, out of this world.

—Violet Whaley

According to the docents of the museum, chairs rock, chandeliers swing, doors open and close of their own volition. Invisible fingers strike the keys of a piano no longer present in the house. the smell of a meal emanates from the dining room often accompanied by the aroma of fresh baked bread and pies during the holidays. The scent of fine Cuban tobacco and French perfume is said to waft through the halls. There are apparently even animal ghosts that run throughout the property.  While I experienced nothing on my one visit, there was a certain feeling in the air.

I left the courtroom and explored other areas of the home.  The lovely dining room and kitchen were all on the first floor and easily accessible.  making my way up the rather steep stairway we are obliged to wander into a large space that was often used as an in-home theatre where plays were routinely staged by family members and neighbors.  along the banister in the hallway we were only allowed to peek into the roped off master bedroom, an additional bedroom, and the nursery where porcelain dolls are said to blink and rocking horses sway back and forth of their own volition.  Again, nothing to see as there were way too many visitors in the home.

The Whaley House Complex consists of:

  • The Whaley House Museum.
  • The historic Verna House, which houses the Whaley House Museum Shop.
  • Two false front store buildings, of which there are only two others that still exist in the City of San Diego, that were moved from downtown San Diego to the Whaley House Complex in 1964 to save them from demolition.
  • A replica nineteenth-century rustic gazebo seating area
  • The historic Derby-Pendleton House. This c. 1850 wood-frame and adobe structure is named for its two best-known residents, humorist George Horatio Derby (better known by his pennames “Squibob” and “John Phoenix”) and San Diego County Clerk and Recorder George Allen Pendleton. The building was moved out of the path of Interstate 5 to its current location in 1962.

It could have been the historicity of the structure or the hopeful anticipation of some sort of contact with the other side.  It was something I throughly enjoyed and and a place I would love to visit again.

 

Visiting the Whaley House

Below is a listing of the Whaley House operating hours.  It’s a pretty complex schedule so be sure to double check the website or call them for operating hours before heading over.

Non-Summer Hours
(Day after Labor Day through day before Memorial Day)
Sunday – Tuesday 10am-5pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday – Saturday 10am-9:30pm
(Last tour begins at 9:30pm)

Daytime Admission (10am-5pm)
$6 Adults · $5 Seniors, age 65 (65 & over) · $4 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 (3-12)
Free for children 2 & under

Summer Hours
(Memorial Day through Labor Day)
Open Daily 10am-9:30pm
(Last tour begins at 9:30pm)

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

July 4 – Closed at 5pm

School Winter Break Hours
December 26, 2014-January 3, 2015
Open Daily 10am-9:30pm, except
Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve 10am-4pm

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

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

School Spring Break Hours
(Monday, April 14-Saturday, April 26)
Open Daily 10am-9:30pm
(Last tour begins at 9:30pm)

Closed at 5pm on Easter Sunday

Daytime Admission (10am-5pm)
$6 Adults · $5 Seniors, age 65 (65 & over) · $4 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)
(Last tour begins at 9:30pm)
$10 Adults · $5 Children (ages 3-12)
Free for children 2 & under

About the Author: Norman Gidney

Norm(an) Gidney is a nearly lifelong horror fan. Beginning his love for the scare at the age of 5 by watching John Carpenter's Halloween, he set out on a quest to share his passion for all things spooky with the rest of the world.
By Published On: April 3, 2015Categories: ParanormalComments Off on The Whaley HouseTags: , , ,