March 17, 2010

The Whaley House

The Whaley House built in 1856 by Thomas Whaley, a merchant from New York. The property was the town gallows before the house was built. Located at 2482 San Diego Avenue in Old San Diego, the Whaley House has been restored and is now owned and operated by the San Diego Historical Society as a tourist attraction. According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960. The most regular spirits present today are: Thomas Whaley, Anna Whaley (wife), James Robinson (hung on the property before the house was built), and a small girl (around 3 years old).

Thomas Whaley was born in New York City to Rachel Pye and Thomas Alexander Whaley, the 7th of 10 children. This branch of the Whaley family came to Plymouth, Massachusetts from Northern Ireland in 1722. Alexander Whaley, the great grandfather of Thomas Whaley, a gunsmith, participated in the Boston Tea Party, and was with George Washington during the Battle of White Plains. He provided flintlock muskets for the Revolutionary War and his house in Long Island was General Washington's headquarters.

Thomas Whaley was born into a family of blacksmiths, gunsmiths, and locksmiths. The Whaleys were Presbyterian, Whigs, comfortably fixed financially, hard workers, bright, and spirited. After its construction was completed in 1857, the mansion became the center of business, government, and social affairs in Old San Diego. The oldest brick house in Southern California, the Whaley house served as a courthouse, a courtroom, a theater, and a boarding house—as well as the family home of Thomas and Anna Whaley and their children.

June Reading, a former director of the Whaley House, told of footsteps being heard in the master bedroom and on the stairs. Windows, even when fastened down with three four-inch bolts on each side, would fly open of their own accord—often in the middle of the night, triggering the burglar alarm. People often reported having heard screams echoing throughout the second story of the mansion, and once a large, heavy china closet had toppled over by itself.

Numerous individuals had sensed or psychically seen the image of a scaffold and a hanging man on the south side of the mansion. According to Reading, 10 years before Thomas Whaley constructed his home on the site, a sailor named Yankee Jim Robinson had been hanged on the spot of what would later become the arch between the music room and the living room in the mansion. Whaley had been an observer when Yankee Jim kept his appointment with the hangman. Some visitors to the Whaley House have reported seeing a gaudily dressed woman with a painted face lean out of a second-story window. In Reading’s opinion, that could well be an actress from one of the theatrical troupes that had leased the second floor in November 1868. The Court House Wing of the mansion is generally thought to be the most haunted spot in the Whaley House, due to the violent emotions that were expended there in the early days of San Diego.

Many individuals who have visited the old house have heard the sounds of a crowded courtroom in session and the noisy meetings of men in Thomas Whaley’s upstairs study. According to many psychical researchers, the fact that this one single mansion served so many facets of city life, in addition to being a family home, almost guarantees several layers of psychic residue permeating themselves upon the environment. Many sensitive visitors to the Whaley House have also perceived the image of Anna Whaley, who, some feel, still watches over the mansion that she loved so much. And who, according to a good number of those who have encountered her presence, deeply resents the intrusion of strangers.

In the fall of 1966, a group of news-people volunteered to stay in Whaley House to spend the night with Yankee Jim. Special permission was granted to the journalists by the historical society, and the ghost hunters settled in for their overnight stay. The wife of one of the reporters had to be taken home by 9:30 P.M. She was badly shaken and claimed that she had seen something on the upper floor that she refused to describe. The entire party of journalists left the house before dawn. They, too, refused to discuss the reason for their premature departure, but some people say the ghost of Yankee Jim, still protesting the horror of his death, confronted them. Since that time, night visits have not been permitted in Whaley House.

In addition to the sightings of the primary spirits of Thomas and Anna Whaley, Reading said that the other ghosts most often seen include those of Yankee Jim, who walks across the upstairs sitting room to the top of the stairs; a young girl named Washburn, a playmate of the Whaley children; and “Dolly Varden,” the family’s favorite dog. And then there are the screams, the giggles, the rattling doorknobs, the cooking odors, the smell of Thomas Whaley’s Havana cigars, Anna’s sweet-scented perfume, the sound of footsteps throughout the house, and the music box and piano that play by themselves.

Even animals aren't left out of the singular occurances. A parapsychologist reported he saw a spotted dog, like a fox terrier, that ran down the hall with his ears flapping and into the dining room. The dog, he said, was an apparition. When they lived in the house, the Whaley's owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue as it has done for a century and a half. Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum. Today, no one is allowed in the Whaley House after 4 P.M., but police officers and responsible citizens say that someone—or something—keeps walking around half the night turning all the lights on.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : Ghostly Locales from Around the World by Jeff Belanger;
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained Vol.3;
http://whaleyhouse.org/chrono.htm

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Diego_-_Whaley_House_01.jpg

7 comments:

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