The Whaley House, located at 2476 San Diego Avenue in San Diego, California today stands as a museum reflecting the region’s rich history for all to see. If there were no other reason to visit the Whaley house, this would be enough to mark it as a special place, but the Whaley house also attracts visitors for another reason. Many of the tourists that wander through the museum each day are hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the many ghosts that are said to make the Whaley House one of the most haunted places in the United States.
The Whaley House was not always a museum, of course, as its name suggests it began as the home of Thomas Whaley and his family. By early San Diego standards, the home was grand and served as much more than a family home. It was also a general store, run by Thomas Whaley, a Granary, and an early County Court House. Being one of the centers of the local community it also served as a school and election polling place at times. Many of these other forms of use play into the hauntings that have been observed there over the years.
Even before the house was built it was said that a man named “Yankee Jim” Robinson had been hanged on the property, and he became the first ghost said to haunt the house. Thomas Whaley and his family reported hearing heavy footsteps moving around the house which they believed was the spirit of Yankee Jim. While Yankee Jim Robinson might have been the first ghost to haunt the Whaley House, he would be far from the last, and there have been reported sightings of many different ghosts from throughout the house’s long history.
Thomas Whaley and his wife Anna and several of their children, including daughter violet who committed suicide in the House in 1885, have all been seen in the decades since their deaths. This plethora of ghostly activity led LIFE magazine to call the Whaley House “the most haunted house in America” in 2005.
Since then, the house has begun to creep into the popular culture. The house and the ghost of Yankee Jim were mentioned in an animated Hellboy movie “Blood and Iron”, and a horror movie about its haunting, the low budget “The Haunting of Whaley House.” The house has also been featured on television reality shows dealing with the supernatural such as Ghost Adventures and Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, although like many such shows the investigations tend to come back as mostly inconclusive, the Whaley House often provides moments that defy easy explanation.
Even celebrities claim to have encountered the spirits at the Whaley House. In 1964 while filming a local morning show, Regis Philbin claims to have encountered the ghost of Anna Whaley, and in 2012 the Biography channel created a show about Philbin’s experience. The Save Our Heritage Organization, which runs the Whaley House Museum, offers a Ghost Hunting Tour that takes pace late at night on the last weekend of every Month, and more frequently around Halloween.
Today, the Whaley House sits as it has since being constructed in 1856-57, a sentinel over Sand Diego Avenue, watching the history of Southern California continue to unfold as the river of time sweeps on. If you are a lover of history, especially that of Southern California, the Whaley house museum is a must-see museum, and if you are a lover of the paranormal then the most haunted house in America is doubly important to visit. Just be careful that you don’t end up staying longer than you had intended, like so many of the spirits that walk the halls and rooms.