Billed as the most haunted house in all of the United States, the Whaley House (2476 San Diego Ave., 619/297-7511, www.whaleyhouse.org , Mon.–Tues. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs.–Sun. 10 a.m.–10 p.m., summer daily 10 a.m.–10 p.m., adults $6, seniors $5, children $4) was built by Thomas Whaley in 1857—and over the century it was inhabited, many members of the Whaley family lived and died inside the brick-constructed Greek Revival mansion.
The house was also leased out as a home, and used as a courthouse, general store, and billiards hall, among other things. Before Whaley built the house on the corner of San Diego Avenue and Harney Street, the spot was used for at least one public hanging on record.
Reportedly, the haunting of the Whaley House began almost as soon as the Whaleys first moved in. Thomas Whaley believed that the specter of a criminal hanged on the land was the source of loud, ominous footfalls that rattled the floorboards of his new home late at night. More recently, visitors have spotted many different ghosts inside the house, which has been featured on America’s Most Haunted.
Children and adults have seen male shades, female spirits, and even the vision of a spaniel dog that matches the description of Thomas Whaley’s family pet. If you love a good ghost story and long to see the spirits of the Whaley House yourself, consider coming to visit at night, or even calling ahead and booking a private tour (two people minimum) after 10 p.m.
Even if you don’t believe all the ghost stories, the Whaley House Museum contains enough concrete lore pertaining to the house and its various incarnations to entertain history buffs for hours. Self-guided tours are enhanced by the wandering docents, who can answer questions about the artifacts inside the house as well as the house itself.
And should you feel an unexpected chill or see an inexplicable shadow as you wander through a room, well, the staff is used to that sort of thing and will be happy to help you out with the experience!