I've decided as a personal photography project to take photographs of the various haunted sites around San Diego. This would include haunted houses, graveyards, hotels, and woods. I'm excited to see what sort of things will present themselves to me- if I am able to capture spirit orbs, if I feel anything emotionally in each spot, and of course if a ghost presents themselves to me. I am interested in learning about the history of each place, and seeing what it is that attracts people to haunted houses.
My first foray into this project was joining the Haunted San Diego Ghost Tour on a busy Saturday night in April. The bus picked us up in Old Town, just down the street from the Whaley House, the "Most Haunted House in America". Our tour guide was an actress in her late 20s, dressed in a long black dress and wearing a black lace bonnet in her hair. She seemed to relish the part as host, and told the story of each place with gusto and flair.
Our tour guide gave us a corny joke that this was the original Ghost Bus and that "Ghost Busters" was named after them. Very cute! The night was filled with a lot of silly quips.
Our first stop was a quick jaunt to the Whaley House, where we stood outside the fence and our tour leader told us about the horrific story of what happened to the residents of the house, the Whaleys. Mr. Whaley bought the land where all the hangings were, so it was already had an evil past. Mr. Whaley's daughter tried to commit suicide after a painful divorce, and unfortunately missed her heart when shooting herself in the chest, so she had a gruesome drawn out death. While visiting the family, the Whaley's grandchild picked up a biscuit off the floor which was infested with rat poison, and also died.
The outside of the Whaley House- on the left is the reconstructed outhouse where the daughter shot herself, and on the right is the house. The top right hand corner is where her bedroom was where she would look out.
The next stop on our tour was the Villa Montezuma Museum in Sherman Oaks, just outside of Old Town. It is a stunning Victorian home built for reknowned musician and mystic Jesse Shepard. No expenses were spared as the home has stunning stained glass, spires, gothic gargoyles on the roof, and more. We were given a tour by the chair of the volunteer board, who brought us in and told us the story of his musical seances.
I just love the details in the wood paneling, the oval and round windows, and the towers!
The stained glass is really stupendous, and the building and glass was $26,000 to build, a ton of money in the late 1800s! As it turned out, James Shepard only lived there for two years as he was called away to perform in Europe. It then went through a long line of owners before it was named a historic home and now museum.
The next stop on the haunted tour was the Horton Grand, a historic hotel in the Gaslamp quarter. It used to be the location of a notorious brothel, where sailors would come and leave a red lamp to mark that they were there, hence the name the "red light district."
Our wonderful tour guide teaching us the history of the Horton Grand.
Supposedly there was an outlaw that was hunted down here and was shot. He quickly ran up the stairs while being chased and hid in the armoire of room 309, where he was found and shot dead.
Truth- I probably could have stayed in room 309. I asked if it was available as I checked in, but it would have been more since it had two queens (compared to my one) and honestly I chickened out.
The next stop was the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis- Horton House. Anna Scheper was a former nurse and used the house as an infirmary during the Tuberculosis outbreak in the late 1800s.
This was the main room that we went into, with beautiful antiques. I see a green orb to the right of the door, and both my camera and cell phone captured that same orb in several places around the room. I didn't see it until I downloaded the photos. I'm not sure if it's the light that was in there reflecting off my camera lens (like some sort of refraction) but I didn't get the orb anywhere else that evening and didn't have my flash on the camera or cell phone. I don't know if it was the specific light that was used in the room that caused the light refraction, or if it is indeed a ghost?
I have other photos that I've done with my cell phone that shows a defined light. It's very bizarre.
More images from the Horton-Davis house. From what I understand, most of the furniture and home decor were brought in from that time but aren't original to the site.
The last place we went to on the Haunted ghost tour was the El Campo Santo graveyard in Old Town. It's got 477 graves visible with more unaccounted for- the whole of Old Town is presumably haunted.
Overall I greatly enjoyed myself and learned a lot of history!