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California

Scream Through Scary San Diego

Are you interested in exploring local history while having some thrills along the way? Then look no further than taking a journey to San Diego’s Old Town. It’s in Old Town where you’ll learn about all the pioneers who laid the foundation for the city as it stands today and the hard lives they lived and the sacrifices they made in order to keep their humble settlement alive. Two of the oldest and most important sites in the area can be explored at your own pace and leisure. Perhaps the most famous of the two landmarks is the Whaley House, which has gained a reputation for being the most haunted house in America. The other side is known as the Davis Horton House or the Heath David House which is the oldest surviving structure in San Diego’s Old Town.

Long before gaining its reputation as a haunted house the Whaley House served many important functions for the people of San Diego. First completed in 1856, the home was designed by Thomas Whaley who constructed it with bricks forged in his own brickyard. The elegant Greek Rival brought some much-needed architectural beauty to the simplistic homes that surrounded it. However, local legend says that the home was cursed from the start. Shortly after moving in Thomas Whaley and his family began reporting footsteps and other odd circumstances going on around their home. The Whaley family believed that their home was being haunted by the ghosts of prisoners who were previously hung on site. Tragedy would strike the Whaley family in 1871 when Violet Whaley the daughter of Thomas and Anna sadly took her own life. Despite the morbid past of the Whaley House, it quickly became one of the most important public places in the city. During its tenure as a public structure, the home served as San Diego’s general store, courthouse, billiard hall, ballroom, school, theater, and polling station. The long history of the home and its service to the public did not stop it from falling into disrepair. Since 2000 the home has slowly but methodically been brought back to its previous glory. You can visit the Whaley House today and take a look at the past of not just the Whaley’s but the entire city of San Diego.

The less known but still equally important Davis Horton House is also worth a tour as long as you are visiting Old Town. Unlike the elegant style of the Whaley House, the Davis Horton House is much more modest. First constructed in 1850, the home was constructed in what became known as a “saltbox structure” due to its resemblance to the boxes that salt used to be shipped in. The home was the first of many such structures that were built in the area to meet the demand for people looking to settle in San Diego. Throughout its history, the home also served many different functions including an officers’ barracks, hospital, and as a private resident. Perhaps the most famous person to ever occupy the building was Alonzo Horton also known as the father of San Diego and an alleged German spy. Today the museum that occupies the home beautifully renders the unique and diverse part of the building’s history with each room depicting a different era and function of the house’s past. There are numerous different tours available and even a ghost tour, although it's recommended that you book this tour in advance.

A trip to San Diego wouldn’t be complete without taking a trip through Old Town and exploring the strange and fascinating history that formed the city as we know it today. There’s something for everyone to enjoy when exploring the lives of those in the past. So whether you are interested in exploring the people and families who helped shape San Diego or you’re interested in the paranormal be sure to add these homes to your list of exciting places to see in the city.


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