San Diego’s Whaley House Offers a Haunted History


Josh Click

The child’s room, located in the Whaley House, is possibly haunted.

Katelyn Timple, Opinions Editor

   Disembodied whispers, flickering lights, and doors opening without explanation. Is this the product of paranoia or paranormal activity? Whatever the case, the arrival of spooky season means haunted attractions meet a desire for thrill and adrenaline, making it the perfect time to visit haunted houses. Among the top spooky attractions in Southern California is one with the authentic history and ghost stories necessary for that thrill: the Whaley House.

The Whaley House in Old Town San Diego is one of the best known haunted houses in San Diego and takes its place as The Most Haunted House in America. According to Time Magazine, “In the 1960s, the U.S. Commerce Department classified the Whaley House as haunted.” Being built on the county’s execution grounds, people believed the house was cursed even before several deaths took place there. Time Magazine wrote, “Its earliest ghost was ‘Yankee’ Jim Robinson, who was hanged on the site in 1852.” It is said that people watched him struggle for more than half an hour before Robinson finally died, according to Whaley House Tour Guide Shep. “When James Whaley built the house — which in the mid-19th century served as a granary, courthouse and general store — in 1857, he claimed to hear Robinson padding loudly through the halls,” ( Nevertheless, Thomas Whaley and his family lived there for years, building up its history as a haunted feature of Old Town, a historic landmark, and a museum.

   In January of 1858, not long after the family moved in, Thomas Whaley Jr. died from scarlet fever, becoming the first in the family to pass away in the home. This prompted the family to leave for a couple of years, according to Shep. Another spirit that haunts the house is the woe Violet Eloise Whaley, Thomas Whaley’s daughter. After she married, her husband left her with a note, revealing that he had another family, and he ran away after having an affair. Violet woke up to the note and was heartbroken. She was overcome with melancholy and tried to take her life twice — first by drowning, after which her family put her on watch, and then by revolver.

“Whaley and his wife are also said to inhabit the house, announcing their presence with cigar smoke and perfume. Visitors have also reported sightings of a startlingly lifelike young girl in a long dress lounging in the dining room,” according to Time ( According to the Whaley House Museum website, spooky occurrences like unexplained sounds, mists, and more are signs that the Whaley family still occupies the house, a phenomenon that thousands travel to see (

Biology Teacher Jessica Bosch said, “I love the Whaley House. I like the idea of seeing a ghost. It just intrigues me that I might feel a paranormal presence. I remember walking into the dining room one time and feeling a dark heaviness.”

Planning an eerie excursion? Be sure to stop by. The Whaley House is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The day tour, which costs 13.30 dollars, is self-guided and averages 30-40 minutes. The evening tour, which costs 18 dollars, is a guided tour and is approximately 30-40 minutes long. Paranormal investigations are also offered after hours for 94.05 dollars (