estudillo casa de estudillo ghosts haunted paranormal ghost old san diego paranormal casa de estudillo haunted old san diego ghosts casa de estudillo


















(Back to California Haunted Index, Paranormal San Diego)

Casa de Estudillo


Haunted Place - Casa de Estudillo


Old Town, San Diego Historic Park
San Diego, California 92110
(619) 220-5422 x5426


One can visit the La Casa De Estudillo Museum at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.


La Casa De Estudillo started off as a grand adobe mansion.

Captain Jose Maria de Estudillo, commander of the San Diego presidio, began to build this find adobe mansion for his wife and his children, near the end of his life in 1927. Though he completed the mansion he had envisioned in 1929, after his death in 1830, his son, Jose Antonio Estudillo, continued to build onto the original mansion, to accommodate his growing family, and to be sure they had room for extended family and visitors.

Jose Antonio Estudillo accomplished much in his life, serving the community as a revenue collector, treasurer, alcalde, and judge of San Diego under the Mexican flag. Under the American Flag, he also served as treasurer and assessor of San Diego County. He also was blessed with a lovely wife, Maria Victoria Dominguez, and their seven sons and five daughters!!!

By the time Jose Antonio Estudillo had finished his additions to the original mansion, the shape of the mansion went from being in an L to a U, with the lovely garden courtyard in the middle of it all. Its thirteen rooms became a comfortable place to live for Jose Antonio Estudillo's large family, extended family and a lovely spot for visitors to stay for awhile.

La Casa De Estudillo was the family home for three generations of the De Estudillo clan until 1887, when they pulled up roots and moved to Los Angeles, to live on their large ranch there. This lovely adobe mansion was left with a trusted caretaker, who did everything but take care of the place. The caretaker sold La Casa De Estudillo's tiles, locks, door and windows, and let the mansion slip into disrepair.

By 1908, it was nearly in ruins. Nat R. Titus and John D. Spreckles owner of the San Diego Electric Company, came to the rescue, just in the nick of time! The John D. Spreckles hired architect Hazel W. Waterman to restore the original adobe La Casa De Estudillo.

La Casa De Estudillo began a new existence as "Ramona's Marriage Place," a commercial venture inspired by Helen Hunt's romantic 1884 novel, RAMONA. Many of the existing palm trees, flowering succulents, citrus trees and other "desert-friendly plants" one finds today in the garden were planted during this part of La Casa De Estudillo's history to provide a romantic setting for many a wedding!

La Casa De Estudillo throughout the years was used as a fort, government office, orphanage, hotel, church, a private residence and finally a museum, when it was donated by a private owner, Mr. Legler Benbough, in 1968 to the State of California. La Casa De Estudillo once again became the de Estudillo adobe mansion of the 1800s, when it became a home museum, the La Casa De Estudillo of sorts, showing the public of what it may have been like in the 1830-1887 era, though no one knows for sure how the De Estudillo family furnished the place.

The National Society of Colonial Dames of America helped to provide authentic period furnishings, both from the Spanish and the Victorian era; 16th - 20th century.


La Casa De Estudillo is a U shaped, 13 room mansion, with 3 to 5 ft. thick, whitewashed adobe brick walls, built on a large river cobble foundation. The present, reconstructed roof is made from rough-cut log rafters (heavy wood beams), which are covered by cane mats (thatched roofing) and fired tiles. There is a charming courtyard garden & fountain in the middle of the U shaped La Casa De Estudillo building, which was built around this courtyard.

Stepping inside the La Casa De Estudillo is like traveling back in time, as the visitor sees how the people lived in this era.

  1. Living Room (Sala) - A large room used for social functions, parties, gatherings, formal dinners, dances, etc. The floor is wooden, not tile, making it more suitable for dancing. There is a Steinway piano which was shipped around Cape Horn, and arrived for the De Estudillo family in 1853. A painted picture of the good Captain Estudillo Senior hangs on the wall facing the doorway, welcoming visitors.

  2. The Master Bedroom - is located right next to the Sala. It has tile floor covered with area rugs. It has a canopy bed, a standard in all the bedrooms, a rocking chair, a night stand, and a sofa.

  3. Spanish-style hallways/corridors deliver the visitor to the various bedrooms, both adult and children.

  4. The Chapel -There is a windowless room which was converted into a chapel for family devotions and for visiting priests. (One sees what an authentic home chapel looked like).

  5. The Workroom - A place where the servants did their work for the family.

  6. The Dining Room - Has many items that would have been gotten from California's "thriving hide and tallow trade of the 1830s," via the San Diego harbor, allowing the people to acquire things of civilized society. (One sees high quality glass and china, carpets, furniture, etc.)



The museum staff have witnessed a variety of manifestations by the entities who let the living know that they are there, while doing things they liked while alive, living in their beloved adobe mansion.

  1. The entities have shown themselves to the living through mirrors. Staff have seen human faces in mirrors hanging on the walls, when they were the only living souls in the room.

  2. Dark forms of apparitions have been seen floating about their business from room to room.

    1. An apparition wearing a brown monk's robe as been seen in the long Spanish-style hallways, especially near the room which was used as a chapel.

  3. Staff members have felt cold spots and experienced red flashes of light in the master bedroom.

  4. The entities in this Adobe mansion enjoy music!

    1. Staff have heard music that didn't have any physical source in this world.

    2. There was a report that the lid on a music box on display in one of the rooms lifted up all by itself and its music began to play.

    3. Apparitions have been seen dancing across the floor, perhaps revisiting good times.

Psychic Research:

  1. In 1988, a research team gathered together by Riverside Press, to investigate the presence of ghosts in Casa De Estudillo during the evening hours. Usually, the living are only in Casa De Estudillo during the daylight hours when the museum is open.

    This research team, while in the process of their investigation, came up against an angry, indignant presence, not at all happy with either their research work, or their intrusion into the entities' time to have the adobe home to themselves.

    1. Members of the research team were surprised when brilliant red flashes of light came upon them.

    2. The photographer was physically attacked by an angry unseen presence, who broke the camera lens.

    3. The researchers did record a voice on tape, during an attempt to contact the entities in this house, telling them to "GET OUT!!!!"

  2. CSGR Chad Patterson on 2/15/2003 conducted an investigation, along with a group of about 4 other investigators, a Psychic, Virginia Marco, and two guests, during the time frame of 12:00 noon to 1:30 P.M.

    1. Psychic Virginia Marco saw a handful of entities throughout the adobe as she walked around.

    2. In the doorway area, leading from the master bedroom to the chapel, paranormal readings were picked up and Psychic Virginia Marco confirmed a presence of a tall man, which supported Chad's earlier investigation done in 1999 when he felt this same presence standing behind him and saw a shadow out of the corner of his eye.


Yes indeed!

Because so many memorable moments took place throughout the years in such a beautiful place, it seems like a great place for entities from its varied history to gather.

  1. The entities don't mind sharing their adobe mansion with the living during the daylight hours, but don't appreciate intrusions from the living, especially researchers after dark! One of them has a temper and will show it.

  2. Not sure who is haunting La Casa ---Probably members of the De Estudillo family are among the entities, besides a priest and whomever else became attached throughout the years, enjoying La Casa. The older section of the adobe, mainly the master bedroom, the doorway to the chapel and the chapel itself have been the most active for CSGR investigator, Chad Patterson, who plans to come back with his team to look further around the place.

Sources INCLUDE: **

The National Directory of Haunted Places
by William Dennis Hauk
© 1996

All photographs © Tom Carr