Report: Things Get Spooky While Ghost Hunting at The William Heath Davis House in San Diego
Being a paranormal buff, I’ve been on a lot of ghost hunting expeditions. Each time I managed to capture one or two cool things that were unexplained, but usually it’s a lot of walking around and listening to stories. Not this time.
The William Heath Davis House hit our radar a few weeks ago when my significant other, Debi, noted that a ghost hunting event had been planned. Of course we bought tickets, and the countdown to zero hour was on. One thing that immediately grabbed our attention was that this was actually proposed to be more of a hunt and less of a tour. The usual ghost tours kind of suck as you’re not allowed to really investigate anything. Not here and not with The San Diego Ghost Hunters. The team spearheaded by Maritza Skandunas and her cohorts Colleen Rose, Julie Haney, and Sandee Wilhoit take their investigating seriously and aren’t afraid of throwing you directly on the front lines of the paranormal. More on that in a moment. First let’s take a look at the house itself.
When it comes to haunted locations in San Diego, a few places immediately spring to mind, specifically The Whaley House, which is reported to be one of the most haunted homes in America. Having toured and been there, I can tell you first-hand… in terms of paranormal phenomenon it doesn’t have ANYTHING on the William Heath Davis House.
William Heath Davis was the first man who attempted to build what we know today as downtown San Diego. In 1850 he began his New Town by the bay, by purchasing a shipment of pre-cut wooden houses from Portland, Maine. They were shipped around Cape Horn to San Diego Bay.
In 1867 Alonzo E. Horton and his wife, Sarah, traveled to San Diego with the plan of succeeding where Davis had failed. Horton purchased 960 acres of land and a one-half interest in the Davis house. He and Sarah lived in the house while his mansion was being built. Horton opened a real estate office in San Francisco and began selling his new land. Thanks to his shrewd business skills and timing, he was able to begin the first real estate boom in San Diego.
The Davis is the only house left standing in San Diego where Horton resided.
The Davis house has been located on 3 lots during its lifetime:
- State and Market Street (erected in 1850)
- 11th and K Street (moved by horses in 1873)
- And currently, 4th and Island (moved by truck in 1984)The house has been rumored to be haunted for years because of the many colorful characters who have resided in the house. Not only was the house a residence to many, it was also a hospital for about ten years where many deaths from consumption and tetanus have been recorded. The house was also an officers’ quarters prior to the Civil War and was reported to have a WWI German spy in hiding who used the house for his purposes. He was later captured and researchers have made contact with his angry spirit.Upon entering the house for the first time, we were immediately greeted by the investigative team and treated to a short history lesson along with some pretty compelling stuff which they captured over the years, including images of apparitions and some truly Class A EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). After about fifteen minutes members of our group were handed EMF (electro magetic field) readers, and the hunt commenced.
The entire time we were there, we were encouraged to take as many photos as possible. First on our agenda was a session with an Ovilus. For those unacquainted with the device, it basically allows a spirit, if present, to speak through it using a database of words it has stored in its memory. Now that may sound kind of hokey, but when you witness direct communication with this thing in which it is giving answers to questions being asked, it may change your mind. During our session it actually pinpointed that Debi and myself were in the entertainment industry. No one there, including the team members, knew that. Make of that what you will.
From there the team took us around to various rooms of the house that had some form of historical significance pertaining to what we were all doing there. In the parlor room we engaged in a dousing rod session, a practice which makes it possible for spirits to communicate by moving the rods in a user’s hands. It was during this session that we caught our first EVP which definitely wasn’t human.
In the following MP3 you can clearly hear a cat meowing. Click here for EVP. What’s interesting about this is that it was DEAD SILENT in the room. And hey, I’m a cat person. If I would have heard this, I would have immediately been like, “Wow! Where’s the kitty?” No one heard this until the recording was reviewed a short time after.
From there we moved into the kitchen, where it is said the ghosts of children play. The team brings in trigger objects, in this case toys, to try and stir up the ghosts. Two of the favorite articles left for them are stuffed teddy bears and crayons. During our EVP session two voices communicated with us.
Mind you, these recordings were checked IMMEDIATELY after each person in our group got to ask a question. There was no time for manipulation of the audio track, and again the room was pin-drop quiet. Pretty compelling stuff.
From there we headed upstairs. Speaking of which, one of the home’s entities is said to be something known as The Lady in Black. As you can see from the picture I took with my iPhone on our way up the stairs, a strange misty spot appeared on the image alongside the bannister. Not saying this is a ghost; I just don’t know what the hell it is.
Upstairs…. I’m still a little freaked out by it. Directly to the right of the staircase is a children’s room. To its left you’ll find an office. Let me just say this… I consider myself a rational human being. Do I believe in ghosts or spirits, I answer that with a guarded “Yes” but I have to experience something for myself for it to have any real credibility or impact on me. The most common things caught on film and digital cameras are orbs. I put no stock in these things at all because we all know by now that 99.9% of them are caused by dust and or moisture. I expected to get lots of orbs while exploring the house. What I didn’t bargain for was the veritable light show that I ended up capturing.
Here’s an example… This is Debi in the kids’ room…
What the hell is that on her right? An insect? I’d buy that, but this thing was moving too erratically for me to say for sure. It had purpose and was making some pretty sharp stop-on-a-dime turns. I backed out of the room and turned toward the opposite wall and caught this… I then leaned over the staircase railing and got this… I kept snapping away the photos. By the time I got to the opposite sides of the hall, these things were running amok between the children’s room and the office. Take a look… I backed into the room to my right, which was the master bedroom and caught this… I went back out into the spot where I was getting pictures and took three in succession. What that is on the left in the center photo is beyond me. My iPhone has no camera straps. There was no one next to me, and there certainly weren’t any windows or curtains around. Again, I AM NOT saying that all these are ghosts, but I am saying that in all my years I had never experienced anything like this. Especially to this degree. From there myself and Debi had gone back to the children’s room. I don’t know how to explain it but the whole feeling in this room is very… well… off. It’s just heavy, man. Colleen decided that it was time to do another EVP session. The room is supposedly haunted by the spirit of one Mrs. Mountain, who had tragically lost her children. For my money this produced the most bone-chilling moment of the night. We were all in the room. Aside from some background noise coming from outside which is audible, it was VERY quiet in the room. Colleen asked if Mrs. Mountain was there and if she wanted to talk. In the recording below you will hear an old woman say, “Okay.” Click here for EVP. If I wasn’t standing in that room, I would so call bullshit on this. But there we were… standing right there in silence. No one heard ANYTHING until the recording was reviewed, and that transpired literally seconds later.
We tried again…. this was the only other one that we got. We enhanced the audio a bit because it was very low, but again it’s the same old woman’s voice! Click here for EVP.
The only other EVP we captured that night is just a breathy one, but here it is for posterity’s sake.
With that our night was over, and again, it yielded some pretty damned compelling stuff. We all see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. All we can do is document and theorize. I’ll say this though; we got much more than we bargained for that night in the Gaslamp, and if you think we’re bullshitting you, then sign up for your own tour here. Be quick as they sell out fast. It should also be noted that all the proceeds from these tours go directly toward the upkeep of this wonderfully haunted house.
But wait! There’s more!
All that being said… the San Diego Ghost Hunters also sent us over some of their best captures from the house – images and EVPs. Check them out below.
- One of the spirits singing along to a bluegrass song used as a trigger object. The lyrics are “Get it right.” Click here for EVP.
- From a dousing rods session a spirit says, “Look at me.” Click here for EVP.
- One of the military people known to have stayed in the house was a Stephen Centrell. The following was from his Ovilus session. Click here for EVP.
- Colleen was being flirtatious at Christmastime with a spirit whose wife took exception telling him, “You come now!” Click here for EVP.
- In the kitchen a spirit points out which crayon he or she wants. “That one.” Click here for EVP.The following pictures were taken while looking at one of the second floor windows. There are no balconies.
Finally… an image at the top of the stairs reveals what could be a couple. You can almost make out a white evening dress on the right. For more visit the official San Diego Ghost Hunters Facebook page. The name William Heath Davis House may not jump out at anyone yet as being one of the most haunted places in the world, but we have a strong feeling that’s about to change.