Home History The Whaley House

The Whaley House

by Michael Terry
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I don’t know where to start….   With my love of haunted places?  or how about how much I love Old Town San Diego?  So many ways…..  OK..  I’ll begin this way…

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ll travel the world to visit a haunted location, house or attraction.  That quest, is what first lured me to Old Town.  More on that in a moment.  Back to the house.

How about a short history?

The house was built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, for his wife and family.  Whaley was one of the early settlers of San Diego, California.  I suppose someone should have whispered in ol’ Tom’s ear that it’s never a good idea to build a house on a cemetery, but, he found out soon enough.

Thomas built the town’s General Store in the front room of the house, eventually moving it off the property to another location.  Never a dull moment, Whaley commissioned the Eastern side of the property to act as the county courthouse.  A store, a courthouse, what else could a man want in his home…?  Yup.  A theater.  Whaley turned part of the second floor of the house into a theater, complete with a stage.  How the family ever got sleep I do not know.

Well, the property was not only the home of a cemetery before the house was built, but also was the death site of “Yankee Jim Robinson”, the notorious criminal that was hanged by a tree on the property, and whom didn’t immediately die, but hung and swung and gagged for quite a while in agony until he passed.

Then the fun began.  Thomas and his wife Anna had six children, Francis, Thomas and Anna Amelia, then George, Violet and Corinne.  Thomas Jr. died after 18 months.  Violet shot herself after a breakup, the rest of the family died in the home.

Which is perfect fodder for a haunting!

OK.. Well, the story of the Whaley’s and Old Town San Diego can be read all over the internet.  I’m not going to re-create it here.  My interest, of course. is the supernatural.  And there’s plenty to go around.  I’ve been to the home several times, and am always drawn to the back area, around where Violet shot herself.  I have captured pictures of Thomas looking out the back window at us.  We’ve seen plenty of shadows throughout the property. and been through icy cold spots in the middle of summer.

Needless to say it is a hot spot for the paranormal.  And surprisingly enough, a certified Historical State Landmark, and one of the two acknowledged haunted places in California.  (The other being the Winchester House in San Jose).  I’ve tossed in a few pictures for giggles, but seriously, if you’re in the area, check out the house, and the surrounding area.  The Old Town is filled with history, and a great day trip.  Comment if you’ve had any experiences in the house.


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