Casa de Estudillo in Old Town , San Diego

The Casa de Estudillo in Old Town is said to be haunted though no one knows by whom. The Casa was a place of happiness and family life; it was not the site of a grisly or untimely death. Still... visitors to this hacienda claim to feel icy cold spots, sometimes they detect the smell freshly baked bread, and once, someone heard a man yell "Get Out" even though there was no one there.

The History

Casa de Estudillo was built in 1827 and it was one of the first lavish family homes built in this area. It belonged to General Jose Maria Estudillo.

The complex was huge for its time: it had 12 rooms and was in the style of Spanish Dons. The Casa was a social and cultural center for about 50 years. Gatherings were held here and the Estudillo family lived here in good harmony with the people of Old Town. It was a warm and loving place with no apparent grievances.

When Alonzo Horton started to mobilize the populace to New Town, the Casa de Estudillo and the rest of Old Town fell into disrepair. By 1887, the last of the Estudillo descendants had left the Casa and moved on to Los Angeles.

Photo: The main entrance into the Casa de Estudillo and the inner courtyard.

casa de estudillo

As luck would have it, in 1884, a writer named Helen Hunt wrote a book about Ramona and she may have used the Casa de Estudillo as a model. In her story, Ramona was a beautiful half-Indian girl who was in love with Alessandro. As with many of these romantic stories: Ramona and Alessandro united briefly and then died tragically.

Fans of the Ramona story mistakenly thought Ramona and Alessandro were true lovers and that the Casa de Estudillo was their true place of marriage.

casa de estudillo The caretaker of the Casa cashed-in on this and started to sell tiles, bricks, and what ever else that could be sold. The Casa quickly deteriorated into terrible shape.

In 1910, John Spreckels, a prominent businessman bought the Casa de Estudillo and renovated it. He reopened it as "Ramona's Wedding Place". He ran it like a tourist attraction with a souvenir shop and a restaurant. In fact, it was so popular that couples wanted to be married in this adobe home.

Photos: The Casa de Estudillo severely deteriorated and when it was restored as a tourist attraction.

The Casa was sold, resold, and then in 1967, it finally landed into the hands of the State of California. The government restored the Casa and Old Town as a Historical Park. The Casa de Estudillo was renovated once more and its name was changed back to Casa de Estudillo. State officials felt that it was more important to restore history rather than to promote a commercial enterprise.

Some criticize John Spreckels and the other opportunists for distorting history for financial gain; however, others believe that Old Town's revival was due in part to the traffic brought in by the fictitious Ramona story.

The Hauntings

As you can see, there is nothing particularly unusual about the Casa de Estudillo yet some say that it is haunted. One bride saw a pair of eyes gazing out from a wishing well - this caused her to faint on the spot. since then, the wishing well has been filled in.

Visitors claim to feel cold spots that cause their hairs to rise on end. Some smell fresh bread emanating from the outdoor oven enough though it has not been used in years. There have been numerous incidences where cameras mysteriously stopped working. Once, a someone heard a mans voice yell "Get Out" in a menacing manner even though there was no one in the room at the time.

The best part of this story is that entry into Casa de Estudillo is free, so you can go there and check it out yourself!

Photos: The Wishing Well (top) and the outdoor oven (bottom).
casa de estudillo

casa de estudillo
One of the rooms in the Casa de Estudillo


Casa de Estudillo
Old Town
San Diego, CA