If you have ever taken a stroll around San Diego’s downtown area, you may have passed a quaint, unassuming little yellow house on the corner of 4th and Island Avenue. Nestled in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter sits downtown San Diego’s oldest surviving structure, The Davis-Horton House. Since the 1850’s, many people have resided in the house including Pre-Civil War Army soldiers, a German spy, hospital patients (when it functioned as a county hospital), and Alonzo Horton (as in Horton Plaza), the Father of “New Town” San Diego. Today, it serves as a museum and the headquarters of the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, whose mission is to preserve the architecture, culture, and history of the Gaslamp quarter for future generations.
Visitors can choose between a self guided, or audio tour of the house to better acquaint themselves with it’s intriguing history and past residents. The history of the surrounding Gaslamp Quarter is equally as fascinating as it was once known as the “Stingaree” Red Light District and was the stomping ground for many colorful characters like a feisty bordello madam named Ida Bailey, and the legendary lawman, entrepreneur, and gambler, Wyatt Earp. It was also the site of San Diego’s historic Chinatown and Asian Pacific District. Walking tours of the Gaslamp meet weekly at the Davis-Horton House and cover the district’s historic hotspots and the stories behind them.
Currently, I spend a lot of time at the Davis-Horton House and in the surrounding area. In addition to typical tourist questions inquiring about directions or restaurant recommendations, the question I get asked a lot is, “So, is the house haunted?”
There are three tours which give visitors the opportunity to find out for themselves: the haunted self-guided tour of the house, the “Ghosts of the Gaslamp” Walking Tour, and the once a month Paranormal Investigation. Having done all three, I can tell you that you will definitely learn a lot and have fun- whether you believe in ghosts or not.
My answer to this question is always, “I think it could be.” I’ve had a few visitors tell me they definitely felt a spiritual energy in the house while on their tour. I have not had any encounters with the spirits that may reside in the house myself ( and I am so NOT disappointed in this fact by the way), but I do feel that there is a certain mysterious lingering energy that tends to be found in any older structure of historical significance. I will say though that I do get a slight pang of trepidation when I have to be in the house alone for any amount of time especially in the morning and evening when it gets quiet, but all in all I feel very lucky that I get to be a steward of preserving this portion of my hometown’s history.
You can find more information on tours and events at the museum’s website by clicking here.