(Excerpts from Robert & Anne Wlodarski’s “Ghosts of Old Town San Diego”

    The McConaughy House, built in 1887 for John McConaughy was home to three sons (William, James and Henry) and one daughter (Mary). John founded the first scheduled passenger stage service between San Diego and Julian.

    After the founding of Heritage Park – the McConaughy house was moved to the park by a group of attorneys who restored and then occupied the house for close to 15 years. During that period, they reportedly heard disembodied footsteps making their way around the house along with many other unusual and unexplained annoyances. Many times these disturbances were loud enough to cause the staff to peak around the corner to check out where the strange sounds were coming from – only to find hallways and rooms totally empty and silent.

    Today, the McConaughy house is home to the Coral Tree Tea House and Old Town Gift Emporium. The spirits of Mary and John McConaughy and at least one of their sons are still very active. According to the current occupants, things are always mysteriously moving around on the first floor.

    The most common occurrences are attributed to Mary, who keeps close tabs on what goes on inside the house. Her benevolent energy will often rearrange merchandise as well as toy with the electricity.

    Although actual sightings are infrequent, most of the employees sense that an active spirit is at work. Mary seems to love testing the patience of the staffers as she constantly toys with the cash register and display cases. Unbeknownst to logic . . . the register has reportedly operated on its own and display lights mysteriously turn on even when the cabinets are unplugged.

    To those sensitive souls that visit the house, many report that there is a constant feeling of being watched by a female presence as they wander through the gift shop. The guests describe this feeling as being “feminine and protective.”

    Although the upstairs is closed off to the public and is used for office space, John has made his presence known as well. His restless spirit and heavy footsteps can be heard echoing downstairs when the upstairs area is devoid of people.

    A recent preliminary investigation of the house by psychic Ginnie McGovern, members of the International Paranormal Research Organization (IPRO) and the San Diego Ghost Hunters reported some interesting results when they were allowed to roam freely inside. The group heard a woman’s voice coming from a deserted hallway and then heard clicking and shuffling sounds that seem to surround them, but no one could find the source. Several photographs taken in the house produced orbs.

    There is no doubt that this beautifully restored house is spirited. We are sure that John and his children appreciate the respect people feel for the home they once owned. Halfway up the steps leading to the second floor are family portraits of the past residents. When you enter the home, think kindly of the family that resided in this house and be respectful during your visit. If you sense anything unusual while you are inside, or perhaps capture something on film we’d love to hear about it so we can include it here in our story.

    Happy Haunting . . .


The “Haunted” McConaughy House