When New York businessman turned California settler Thomas Whaley built a house in Old Town San Diego, he had no idea that the Greek Revival residence would later be – allegedly – haunted by the ghosts of several generations of his own family. Today, the ghoulish goings-on have cemented the Whaley House, built in 1857, as a California Historical Landmark and one of only two buildings in the state to be designated an official Haunted House by the US Commerce Department.
In addition to claims that the Whaley family remain in residence long after their deaths, the land that the Whaley House stands on was reportedly haunted before the building’s construction. Formerly the site of a gallows, the family allegedly heard heavy footsteps moving about the house, which they attributed to the ghost of James “Yankee Jim” Robinson who was hanged in 1852.
Since then, four members of the Whaley family died in the house, including Thomas‘ widow Anna, and the couple’s fifth child, Violet, who committed suicide following her divorce from George T. Bertolacci. Visitors have reported seeing the ghost of Anna Whaley in the garden, while many people also claim to have seen Thomas Whaley’s spectre in the parlour.
A young girl who matches the description of Marion Reynolds, the great grand-daughter of Thomas Whaley, who died from ingesting ant poison, is reported to grab the arms of visitors as they tour the house, while a spectral dog is occasionally seen by children. If you’re brave enough, the Whaley House Museum offers a paranormal tour every last weekend of the month, and was named the most haunted house in the United States by Travel Channel show America’s Most Haunted.