historical landmark sign
Historical Landmark No. 65

Whaley House Museum
2476 San Diego Ave.
(at Harney St.)
Old Town, San Diego


El Campo Santo
(trans. "graveyard")
2nd oldest S.D. cemetery
2410 San Diego Ave.
Old Town, San Diego
"Few houses in San Diego are as historically important as the Whaley House. In addition to being the Whaley Family home, it housed a granary, the County Courthouse, San Diego's first commercial theater, various businesses including Thomas Whaley's own general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place.... According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States."
—from Ghostly Legends of the Whaley House, Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO)

"NO. 65 THE WHALEY HOUSE - This house, in which the San Diego County Court met for about 20 years, was the first brick building to be erected in San Diego County. The bricks were made at Thomas Whaley's own kiln in Old Town in 1856, and the walls were finished with plaster made from ground seashells. Five generations of the Whaley family have occupied the old home."
—from California Historical Landmarks, Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks

More info: Weird California: Whaley House

EL CAMPO SANTO: "Years later, in 1993, almost thirty-five graves were discovered underneath when special ground-penetrating radar was used along San Diego Avenue and the sidewalk in front of the cemetery. In 1994, a memorial plaque was placed at the entrance to the cemetery to remember 'the more than 20 men, women and children who lay buried beneath San Diego Ave.' At the bottom of the plaque is a diagram showing the approximate locations of the graves, and a second plaque at the back of the cemetery shows the locations of thirteen graves—mostly of children—buried underneath Linwood Street. Additionally, people walking past the cemetery on the sidewalk may come across simple circular metal markers embedded in the concrete reading, simply, 'grave site.'"
—"Bodies Beneath the Boulevard" by James A. Willis, in Weird Encounters, comp. Joanne M. Austin, illus. Ryan Doan (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010).
county park sign
county park sign

Photos copyright © March 2008, July 2009 Kat Avila
Time of Day: afternoon
Cameras: HP Photosmart M415 (2008), Canon SD1000 (2009)
Whaley House
Whaley House Museum
was dedicated May 25, 1960.
Whaley House
Whaley House Museum
Whaley House
Whaley House Museum
Whaley House and Verna House
Whaley House Museum
and SOHO* Museum Shop

*Save Our Heritage Organisation
Verna House
SOHO Museum Shop is in
the c. 1869 Verna House.
"Built by Thomas Whaley in 1856-57, this is the oldest
brick structure in Southern California. In addition to
being the home of the Whaley family, it served variously as
granary store, court-house and school and as the town's
first theater. Whaley's home was the cultural center of
San Diego as well as its most luxurious residence."

State Registered Landmark No. 65
general store window
Whaley & Crosthwaite General Store window
restoration-in-progress sign
Restoration of the
front porch to its
original appearance
began in May 2008.
"Come Explore
America's Most Haunted
San Diego's First Brick Mansion
Built 1856-57
On the exact spot where
Yankee Jim swung
for his crimes"
Living Area
Thomas Whaley's study
Thomas Whaley's study
door to the parlor
door to parlor from study

The arch between the rooms
marks the place where
Yankee Jim was hanged
(source: Roberts, p. 114).
Anna Whaley's pump organ
Anna Whaley's pump organ

Music heard in the house
is attributed to her ghost.
the parlor
the parlor

TV host Regis Philbin saw a
hazy figure against the wall
where Anna's portrait is
(source: museum handout).
staff member
"Looking for ghosts?"

Whaley & Crosthwaite General Store
double-wheel coffee grinder
museum guestbook &
double-wheel general store
coffee grinder
store window
store window
store display
store display
store display
store display
Yankee Jim
Program for Frances Bardacke's
The Ballad of Yankee Jim
staged in summer of 1996 by
Theater Arts Guild of
San Diego City College.
Dining Room and Kitchen
1860s wood-burning stove
(behind display glass)
dining room lighting
dining room lighting
wood parlor stove
wood parlor stove
wood parlor stove
wood parlor stove
(doors slide outward)
dining room sideboard
walnut sideboard
in dining room
dining room
walnut sideboard in dining room
dining room sideboard
walnut sideboard
dining room door to back
dining room door
to rear of house

Courtroom (1869-1871): The ghost of a dark-skinned woman who wears gold hoop earrings and a floor-length cotton-print dress has been spotted in the courtroom (sources: museum handout; May, HHWG, p. 17).
courtroom window
judges' bench
counsels' table
counsels' bench
jury box
jury box
Bedrooms, 2nd floor (can only be viewed from behind display glass): Thomas Whaley himself thought the footsteps of a man walking overhead in heavy boots in the bedroom area were those of Yankee Jim Robinson (source: museum handout).
ghost camera
An example of the display glass reflection,
my ghostly camera stares back at me here.

This is the main bedroom where late curator June Reading
and an intern struggled to shut and bolt windows during
an afternoon rainstorm. When they went to the nursery,
they heard the ghostly laughter of Thomas Whaley
(source: Roberts, p. 112).
The spookiest thing in
the house was the doll
on the bed.
staircase looking down
Theater (October 1868-January 1869), 2nd floor: This is my favorite part of the house, and I felt very welcome the first time I visited it, probably because I admire small independent theatre groups. San Diego's first commercial theater was only around for a few months due to founder Thomas Tanner's death not long after it opened. The space was then used to store county records.
At the top of the stairs is
the door to the theater.
To the left and right are
the bedrooms.
theater doorway
doorway to theater

The ghostly ceiling shadows
are from the window curtain.
theater organ
organ to the left of stage
theater stage
theater fireplace
A framed opening night ad
for the Tanner Troupe
sits against the back wall.
Admission then was 50¢.
Behind the House
excavation behind house
Whaley House from behind.
The blue tarp protects an
excavation of its historical
well and outhouse.
(2008 photo)
excavation behind house
(2009 photo)
excavation sign
"A Century of Whaley Life:
The Archaeology of a
Legendary San Diego Family"
(2009 photo)
Derby-Pendleton House
circa 1850 prefab
Derby-Pendleton House
(on Harney Street)
in front of the café
courtyard area

The pepper trees were
planted circa 1870.
New Orleans Creole Café
New Orleans Cafe
New Orleans Creole Café

The café exteriors
are false fronts.
hand water pump
hand water pump
gazebo gazebo & park benches