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San Diego's 'Haunted' Whaley House Goes Virtual For Halloween

Patch logo Patch 10/21/2020 Kristina Houck
a sign on the side of a building © Provided by Patch

SAN DIEGO, CA — Although the Whaley House is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the popular "haunted" attraction in San Diego is offering virtual programs this Halloween season.

Located in San Diego's Old Town neighborhood, the Whaley House has been called the "most haunted house in America" by Time Magazine and the Travel Channel's "America's Most Haunted." The Whaley House was also named "California's most haunted house" this week by Big 7 Travel.

The house was dedicated as a historic museum in 1960 and has been open to the public ever since.

The Whaley House was the home of early settler Thomas Whaley and his family. The home once housed a granary, a county courthouse, the city's first commercial theater and various businesses, including Whaley's own general store.

The house has become one of the most "haunted homes" due in part to its tragic history.

The Whaley family's daughter, Violet, committed suicide there in 1885, according to the museum's website. Hangings also took place on the property before the house was constructed.

Visitors have reported encountering a variety of spirits, including Whaley himself, according to the museum's site. The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House was "Yankee Jim," who was convicted of attempted grand larceny in 1852 and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the museum now stands.

The Whaley House is owned by San Diego County and managed and operated by Save Our Heritage Organisation, a nonprofit organization that manages and operates historic sites and resources throughout the county.

In normal years, the Whaley House typically attracts 80,000 to 90,000 visitors annually, including about 9,000 visitors in October alone, according to Dean Glass, administrative manager and historian of the Whaley House.

Glass said he doesn't anticipate the Whaley House reopening before 2021.

While staffers at the historic museum can't greet crowds in the physical realm, they have invited history and paranormal fans to join them in spirit for virtual programs this Halloween season.

The Whaley House is offering a virtual tour through Halloween. "Shadows of the Past: The History and Mystery of the Whaley House" is a new virtual exploration of the historic museum. The video tour costs $10.

On Sunday, Glass and fellow historian Robin Lakin will discuss some of the myths and folklore of the Whaley House and answer questions during "Lifting the Veil: A Q&A with Whaley House Historians." The 45-minute virtual event also costs $10.

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