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Famous Haunted Places--The Whaley House, San Diego, CA

Updated on March 11, 2011

The Whaley House, San Diego, CA



There are some human beings who
are dimly aware of their own deaths,
yet have chosen to stay on in what
used to be their homes, to be close to
surroundings they once held dear.

--Hans Holzer


Whenever anyone creates an inventory of famous haunted houses the Whaley House is at the top of the list. It is reportedly one of the most haunted sites in the world. The house is listed by the US Department of Commerce as an authentic haunted house.

The home was built by Thomas Whaley in 1857 on the grounds where infamous Yankee Jim Robinson was hung in August of 1852. In 1885 Thomas’s sister committed suicide in the house after her devastating divorce from George T. Bertolacci. Three other Whaley women also died in the house between 1913 and 1953, including Thomas’ wife Anna. During its lifetime the house has been used as a granary, the County Court House, San Diego's first commercial theater, various businesses including Thomas Whaley's own general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place. It is now California State Historic Landmark #65.

There have been numerous paranormal investigations at the house. Some of the manifestations found at the location are disembodied voices, cold spots, footsteps, apparitions, eerie sensations, and the appearance of tall, blond, Yankee Jim Robinson who suffered a horrible hanging death while proclaiming his innocence. The Whaleys and their guests reported seeing and hearing Jim’s ghost while they lived in the house in the mid 1800s.

The spirit of Anna Whaley has also been seen on several occasions in the downstairs rooms or in the garden, and she still plays her piano for visitors. In 1964, Mrs. Whaley's spirit appeared to television personality Regis Philbin. "All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall," Philbin reported. "There was something filmy white, it looked like an apparition of some kind, I got so excited I couldn't restrain myself! I flipped on the [flash]light and nothing was there but a portrait of Anna Whaley, the long-dead mistress of the house."

The Whaley’s owned a terrier that has also been seen running up and down the hallways long after its passing.

This room was built over where the county’s gallows once stood. Many people have reported feeling a constriction in their throats when standing in this area.

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