You may not know that according to the Travel Channel, America’s Most Haunted house is the Whaley House in San Diego and it is listed by the United States Dept. of Commerce as an authentic haunted house. An honor only given to 29 other places in the entire country.
Located in the Old Town area of San Diego, the Whaley House opened as a museum in 1960. It “comes alive” during October as Ghost Tours are held throughout the month and people come from all over the world in hopes of spotting a ghost or two.
Many believe that “Yankee Jim” is one of the ghost that walks the halls of the house. Yankee Jim was convicted of attempted grand larceny in 1852 and was hanged on a gallows on the site where the house now stands. A few years later, Thomas Whaley, in spite of witnessing the hanging, bought the property and built a home for his family there. According to the San Diego Union, soon after they moved in, heavy footsteps could be heard in the house. Whaley himself said it must be the footfalls of Yankee Jim, and even his daughter, Lillian, was convinced it was his ghost that haunted the house. She braved living there till 1953, when she moved to a retirement home in Lemon Grove.
The Whaley family were not the only one’s to see ghosts, as curators at the Whaley house have seen them, too. One is believed to be Thomas Whaley, himself, wearing a coat and pantaloons. Along with Thomas’ ghost, is Anna Whaley’s ghost, which is Thomas’ wife. She has been spotted in the garden and in the downstairs rooms. Then there is Violet Whaley, their daughter, who reportedly committed suicide by shooting herself in the chest. She is believed to be a ghostly presence in the house.
In 1964, Regis Philbin, who was a newscaster and later a talk show host in San Diego, decided to spend the night in the Whaley House. To this day, he tells the story of seeing Anna’s ghost, “All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall. There was something filmy white, it looked like an apparition of some kind.” Be sure to watch the video on the left to hear Regis’ story of spending the night at the Whaley house.
There has also been reports of a young girl in the home, and local legend is that it is the ghost of a friend of the Whaley children, that accidentally broke her neck on a low clothesline in the backyard. Even a dog has been spotted in the hall that looks like a terrier. Records show that the Whaley’s owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.
During the month of October, the Whaley House will have many Ghost Tours. The Past and Presence Ghost Tours that takes you to all the haunted historic sites in Old Town and the Ghost Hunting Tour where you join the staff and the San Diego Ghost Hunters for an exclusive ninety-minute tour.
If you haven’t seen the Whaley House, there is no better season than Halloween to visit.