Whaley House: The Most Haunted House in America.

I have yet to write about my recent trip to the US but in the spirit of Halloween, I'm going to tell you about my visit to the haunted Whaley House in San Diego, California.

My sister Sab and I are adrenaline junkies.  We like doing stuff that will make our heartbeats rise, including hunting for ghosts.  So when I visited Sab a few months back, she made it a point to include the Whaley House in our itinerary.

Once called by LIFE magazine as "the most haunted house in America", the Whaley House has witnessed a great number of deaths which occurred inside or on the land it is on.

Throughout the years, the Whaley House has been a residence, a general store, a granary, a morgue, a commercial theater, and a courtroom.  It is located in Old Town, which is a neighborhood in San Diego more popularly known as the birthplace of California.  

There are three types of tours available for the Whaley House: Daytime Tours from 10am to 5pm ($6+), Nighttime Tours from 5pm to 9:30pm ($10+), and Ghost Hunting Tours from 10:30pm to 12mn ($50+).  The Daytime and Nighttime Tours are 35 minutes long while the Ghost Hunting Tour is 90 minutes long.  

Initially, my sister and I wanted to do the Ghost Hunting Tour but after much thought, we decided that we could just go on the last Nighttime Tour and save $80.  What difference would it make if we go at 8:30 or 9:30pm as opposed to 10:30pm?  I guess we'll never know but we'd rather spend that amount of money on something else.

My sister and I buy tickets at the store, fall in line outside the house, and wait for our guide to call us.  After a few minutes, our guide opens the door and lets everyone in.  The tour is limited only to 20 people at a time but I believe our number that night is much less than that.  It makes the experience much scarier though because our group is small.

Once everyone is inside, our guide introduces herself and brings us to the Court Room.

She tells us the do's and dont's-- photos are allowed but video and audio recordings aren't.  We can take as much photos as we want, better with flash, in case there are any elements in the same room that we are in.

Our guide then proceeds to tell us about the time when Mr. Whaley rented out this part of the house to the government to be used as a courtroom.  In 1853, Yankee Jim Robinson died inside the Whaley House, specifically around the stairwell area.  He attempted to steal a boat but was clubbed over the head with the butt of a sword and badly injured.  The judge who heard his case was drunk and sentenced him to death.  Yankee Jim was a bit too tall so he hung from the noose for more than an hour until he choked to death.

Next, we go to the Parlor where our guide tells us more about the Whaley family.  Thomas and Anna Whaley had six children, Francis Hinton, Anna Amelia, Thomas Whaley Jr, George, Violet, and Corinne Lillian. Thomas Whaley Jr. was born on 18 August 1856 but suffered from scarlet fever at 18 months and died on 29 January 1858 inside the house.    

A portrait of Mrs. Whaley inside the Parlor

The Parlor is kind of like a grocery so there are different items on display.   But what got my attention the most are these creepy-looking dolls inside the cabinet.

The Parlor is also where some of the belongings of the Whaley family are displayed.  See the pair of shoes on the right side of the photo?  The pair belong to Mrs. Whaley.  She was actually tall for her time at 4'9 and her shoe size bigger than the usual but if you look at it now, it seems so small!

The next room we enter is the Dining Room.  It is covered with Fleur de Lis wallpaper which adds to the scare factor because they look like inverted crosses instead.  Beside this room is the outdoor kitchen which guests can view but cannot enter.    One day, a young girl, who was playing with the Whaley children, ran into a low-hanging clothesline, crushed her throat, and ended up hanging herself.  She died in Thomas Whaley's arms as he carried her into this kitchen.

Our guide also tells us about the two-year old great granddaughter of Mr. Whaley who accidentally ate a cookie with ant poison (obviously meant to kill ants) and died. Her presence is often felt in the kitchen tugging on clothes, looking for a mommy figure. The great granddaughter is also seen hiding under the dining table at times.

I do not have a third eye nor psychic abilities.  But I'm not afraid of ghosts so when I feel weird about a room, there must be some sort of element there.  In the Dining Room, no one tugs on my dress but I do feel suffocated, like I can't breathe properly.   I've felt this way more than once before in the presence of the paranormal so I know that either Mr. Whaley's great granddaughter or the young girl is there with us that night.

Our guide leads us to the second floor to see the rooms although it's hard to take photos of them because they are covered with some sort of plexiglas.  I don't know why they have to do this.  Safety reasons, perhaps?

There are around four rooms on the second floor.  One of Whaley's daughters named Violet died in this room.  It's said that she committed suicide but people believe that she was murdered... by a family member.

While everyone is going through the other rooms, I go into the Theater Room.  My sister warns me not to because the guide didn't give us the ok signal but stubborn me wants a good shot without people in the photo so I still go inside.

The first one I take comes out black.
I take another. Still black.
Another and another and another.  Flash flash flash.  All black.

I find this weird because there are street lamps outside lighting up the theater.  I try to take more photos but my camera dies.  I use my phone and it dies as well.  I'm pissed that I forgot to fully charge my gadgets and ask my sister for a power bank.

Our guide finally leads everyone to the theater and tells us about operator Thomas Tanner, who died just after the opening.    She adds that Thomas hates flashes from cameras and kills gadgets of people who take too much photos.


But that's not the worst part.  Our guide tells us how, out of all of the ghosts, only Thomas Tanner leaves the house and follows guests home.  She also shares her first-hand experience of Thomas following her daughter to their house.


As soon as I leave the theater, both my camera and cellphone come to life.  I still have two bars on my camera and 85% on my phone.  Sorry Mr. Tanner!

This is a photo of the theater I edited to lighten up the shot.

Beside the Theater Room is the Nursery.

Our guide says that people who take pictures of the cradle often see a baby inside after reviewing their photos.   Fortunately (or unfortunately), the baby does not appear in any of mine.

On the other side of the Theater Room is this room belonging to Mr. Whaley's daughter.   I don't know why anyone would want to play with those dolls.  Our guide warns us that the doll wearing the purple dress moves her head towards you and smiles if she likes you.   I look at her for a few seconds but she doesn't move so I take a couple of photos instead.

This is the Guest Room where Mrs. Whaley and a cousin of theirs died.

We all go back down to the first floor and check out Mr. Whaley's Study.   This is where tourists often smell lavander perfume (indicating Mrs. Whaley's presence) or cigar smoke (indicating Mr. Whaley's presence).

So that ends our Whaley House tour.

My sister and I go outside and see that the moon is bright.  We continue exploring the grounds, hoping to see more action.

We see this box which looks like a coffin from afar but is actually some kind of water tub thing.  Beside it are Mrs. Whaley's roses.

We find nothing so my sister and I go to a nearby taco place for Taco Tuesdays.  Then we walk to the El Campo Santo Cemetery (yes, we still haven't had our fill) which is just a block or two away from the Whaley House.

On the way home, my sister and I are a bit disappointed that we did not have any significant paranormal experience inside the Whaley House.  Yes, Thomas Tanner may have killed my camera and phone's batteries but it's not enough.  Remember the saying 'Be careful what you wish for'?

When we get back to my sister's place, we say our goodnights and I browse for photos I can post on Instagram.  I go through each until I see the theater photos.

Dark shot, dark shot, dark shot then I come across this.

The photo following this is another dark shot of the theater so I don't know what this is supposed to be. The stranger thing is that it's a video and I'm pretty sure that I never took a video while inside the house because that's what the guide told us not to do before we started our tour.

At this point, I'm already getting goosebumps.  What the heck Thomas Tanner!  It's almost 3 in the morning already.  I want to wake my sister up and share this with her but she has work the next day.  I text T, who hates all things paranormal, who tells me to stop looking at the photos and to just go to sleep.

I decide that this is the best course of action but before doing so, I Google "December 31, 1979 Whaley House" and discover that the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on that date.

Ok, time to sleep.

So fast forward to today as I am writing this blog post now, I go through the Whaley House pictures again.  I stop at the photo of the dolls only because just recently, someone commented on my Instagram about how she has taken a photo of the doll in the purple dress smiling.

Out of curiosity, I zoom into my photos and find the doll wearing the purple gown not smiling in one photo and sort of smiling in another while the doll wearing the yellow gown with both eyes open in one photo and winking in the next.

These dolls are acting normally.

Until the doll in the yellow dress blinks and the doll in the purple dress smiles.

I tell my sister what I find and she asks me to send her the photos.  I tell her it's not that visible if she's using her phone, not even an iPad.  The best way to see the difference is through a laptop or, even better, a desktop computer and open the two photos so you can just switch through the two photos using arrow up, arrow down.

But if you don't have the time to do that, here's a comparison.  If you're using a laptop or desktop, it's still better to zoom in so you can see the smile or the wink.

I've experienced far worse mala The Conjuring experiences than our visit to the Whaley House.  But I just want to share this fun story with all of you since it's Halloween.    And if you're looking for something to watch to pass time before trick or treating starts, here's an episode called The Haunting Of Regis Philbin where Regis spends the night inside the Whaley House.

Happy Halloween everyone! :)


  1. I AM SKA. Hope the gif file loaded so you can see the wink and the smile ;)

  2. BARTZZZZ. Zoom in on the photo!

  3. KORYN. Happy Halloween mother! :)

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Speedy! I'm reading this blog post again then I saw your comment. Yes, these dolls are creepy. I'm not sure what I'm doing looking at their photos at 1 in the morning :D


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