History & Restoration
The building was started with the construction of a granary that later became the courtroom. The two-story house and store addition was designed by Thomas Whaley himself and constructed in 1857. It was the first two-story brick edifice in San Diego, and was built from bricks made in Thomas Whaley's own brickyard. Whaley boasted, "My new house, when completed, will be the handsomest, most comfortable and convenient place in town or within 150 miles of here."
When Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) took over the stewardship of the Whaley House in 2000, it was in a deteriorated condition after years of neglect. Mildew, dirt, moisture, and leaks in the roof, all contributed to the house's need for attention and restoration. Along with this, its original room layout had been altered multiple times over the years.
The first order of business for SOHO, after cleaning the site, was to make a long term restoration plan and the house has been in the process of restoration ever since, as we work our way through an aggressive schedule and ambitious goals we set for ourselves.
We were able to gather many clues from photographs taken when the County first obtained the house showing its condition, as well as using Whaley records and documents, and repositories like the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Expert historic home and museum restoration consultants with SOHO were used to lay out the scope of work and see it through. Now in our 13th year, we have come halfway through, and in the next 10 years we hope to have a fully restored house, interior and exterior.
One important document used in the restoration was a sketch of the first floor of the house and property c.1869, hand drawn by Thomas Whaley. This helped us greatly in bringing the house back to the original design of that period. It also allowed us to refine our area of interpretation to the most exciting and certainly busiest time of the house's history, one when it included the Whaleys' residence, the courtroom, the general store, and the theater, all at the same time.
Your admission goes toward this important work. We thank you for your visit.
HISTORY & RESTORATION