Whaley House Haunting

I spoke with three docents at the Whaley House to see if they had any experiences with the haunting...

While staying in Coronado, California I had some time to sneak up to Old Town San Diego and tour the Whaley House. For years, I have heard the tales of it being the most haunted house in the United States -- quite a bold statement. I figured that if it truly is super-haunted, the museum guides known as "docents" should be able to share some personal encounters with ghosts. After all, they are in the historic building quite a few hours each month.

I began my self-guided tour by stopping at the ticket office, also an incredible ghostly gift shop, and purchased by pass; then, I walked the short distance to the Whaley House and went inside. Within a few minutes, I had the first docent, a young female, share several personal accounts of ghost activity. Her first month, she saw a door slam without reason. She has also felt the presence of something unseen, too, many times. Most startling to her, though, was when she mistook the form of a man she saw reflected in glass as being one of her male co-workers. It wasn't because she would later find him in another room of the house. And, no one else was in the house at that time. Spooky!

The second docent I met was very quick to talk haunting the entire time, letting guests know that Ghost Adventures, a television show, had recently wrapped up filming there. (It should air in the Fall of 2014.) She also shared that, in her opinion, the entire building and grounds are haunted as the Whaley House was built on top of the former execution site.

The third docent I questioned, was a very nice man, who recalled many of the stories along with his own personal experiences and ideas about the haunting. I must say I really enjoyed my brief time there. Everyone was friendly, extremely helpful and seemed thrilled to death (pun intended) with their work.

The gentleman I spoke with shared that interaction with the ghosts at the Whaley House may occur at anytime throughout the week, even during the day, but seems to be slightly more active at night when people are there on guided tours. It would seem the ghosts enjoy the interaction, perhaps? He also believes the house could be haunted by up to 40 spirits. That may be a stretch, but he is there quite a bit and hears all the peculiar experiences of visitors and fellow docents. He also shared with me that I should stop at El Campo Santo Cemetery just down the street because he feels it is also haunted along with the Old Town State Historic Park. This guide pointed out that the Whaley House is sort of in the middle between both the cemetery and park and apparently a popular "party" stop for ghosts who travel from one place to the other.

Museum docents I spoke to reported witnessing the following paranormal activity at the Whaley House:

  • Doors slamming shut on their own without explanation
  • Seeing apparitions
  • Feeling presences that can be very strong, at times
  • The motion sensor, sometimes, cannot be set due to it sensing movement in the house when no one is inside
  • Hearing footsteps and voices upstairs, plus the floors will creak on their own, unexplainedly
  • Smells of sweet tobacco (cigar smoke) in the house hallway or cigarette smoke near the rocker on the first floor (Anna Whaley was a chain smoker)
  • Hearing a music box play that is broken on the second floor among other noises
  • Hearing the chairs in the theater move around upstairs
  • Women report being touched while upstairs. It is believed Thomas Whaley, who apparently likes women, may be the culprit.
  • People who are intuitive always seem to easily sense spirits in the house.

The Whaley House encourages visitors to take lots of photographs while there. Perhaps, you might catch something paranormal in your photos! (Know that a lot of the rooms in the Whaley House, especially on the second floor, are walled off with glass. If you take photographs through that glass, you must account for reflections of yourself or others.)