The Whaley House in San Diego was originally built on the execution grounds of James Robinson, nicknamed Yankee Jim. In 1852, Yankee Jim was convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to death by hanging. The hangman set the noose improperly, allowing Jim's feet to graze the ground, prolonging the hanging process. In 1856, Thomas Whaley bought the land where Yankee Jim had been killed and built a house for his own family. The youngest Whaley daughter, Lillian, said she could hear the sound of boots clomping through the house and suspected it to be the ghost of Yankee Jim.
Today, the Whaley House is a registered historic site and museum. Visitors and employees have reported seeing or hearing the ghosts of former owners Thomas and Anna Whaley. According to staff and guests, Thomas' ghost usually resides near the landing at the top of the staircase, while Anna's stays downstairs or in the garden. Television host Regis Philbin is among those who claimed to have seen Mrs. Whaley's ghost. Scents of cigar smoke and perfume have also mysteriously arisen at times. Because of the frequency of such ghost sightings, the Whaley House has been cited as one of the most haunted houses in the United States.