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Whaley House Museum's October Season is a Resounding Success

By Dean Glass

The month of October brings the busiest holiday of the year for the Whaley House, Halloween. When the days grow shorter, and the nights, when ghosts are said to roam the halls of the Whaley House, grow longer.

As Byrd Wood says in his article written for the National Trust, "Haunted House: Preservation Help or Horror?" (Reflections, Fall 2001) "Old buildings come with a past. That past may be an important event found in history books or it may be just a rumor fueled by late night ghost stories. But either way, hearing such stories can help us feel more personally connected to a building's history and to the people who were a part of it. Preservationists are accustomed to being 'haunted' by the past. We should celebrate any ghosts that make that past more vivid and compelling for others." This October, we celebrated the Whaley House ghosts by opening the museum for after-hours "ghost tours."

Although the Whaley House was rumored to be haunted as far back as 100 years ago, it was in the 1960s that the house first gained widespread notoriety for its spirited inhabitants when June Reading, the museum's original director for 38 years, reported hearing "the sound of someone walking across the floor" when nobody was there, and "windows in the upper part of the house open[ing] unaccountably." ¹Media attention to the house first began when Regis Philbin's 1964 ghost investigation made its way onto Philbin's own television program and later into a book by Hans Holzer.

Shoppers are happy to stand in line at the SOHO Museum Shop to buy unique vintage-style Halloween items during the late October nights


In an effort to surpass 2005's record-breaking October admissions, SOHO staff got busy planning the Halloween programming. We got the word out promoting not only the upcoming Halloween events, but also the fact that this October provided us a Friday the 13th to kick off the season with late-night tours. We lined up visits by Rock 105, Channel 933, KUSI and HDTV. The following week both KFMB's Larry Himmel and KGTV's Kim Edwards videotaped after hours ghost investigations with the help of the San Diego Ghost Hunters group. In addition to numerous print media news stories, including articles in the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, publicity about the Whaley House reached an all-time high with a featured segment on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which aired on October 31.

In all, Halloween visitation far exceeded last year's totals, with nearly 3000 people touring the museum between October 27 and October 31. Funds raised on Halloween weekend and Friday the 13th brought in $34,000. These funds help greatly with the ongoing restoration of the historic house museum.

Thanks to all the SOHO and Whaley House staff and volunteers who made this October such a success: Nancy Appleton, Bruce and Alana Coons, Janet Cooper, Cambria Covell, William Doyle, Daniel Eues, Kimberly Fickas, Sandra Flores, Dean Glass, Linda Matlock, Vykki Mende Gray, Taylor Hammond, Morgan Hoodenpyle, Casey Howie, Mary Jones, Stuart Kalbrofski, Valeria Lopez, David Marshall, Ryan Marshall, Olivia McQueen, Pat Petersen, George Plum, Bonnie Poppe, Christopher Pro, Jamie Reynolds, Victor Santana, Cassandra Spindler, Diana Stanley, Heather Sullivan, David Swarens, Jokie Tolentino and husband James, and Justin West.

¹Holzer, Hans. Ghosts of the Golden West, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1968.

2006 - Volume 37, Issue 4

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Whaley House Museum's October Season is a Resounding Success

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