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The Ghostly Story of San Jose's Haunted Winchester Mystery House

The Ghostly Story of San Jose's Haunted Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House has earned a reputation for being one of the most peculiar haunted houses in California. Here's why.


2 min read

July 02, 2020

The Winchester Mystery House in California stands as one of the most enigmatic haunted houses in the state, with a history as intriguing as its architecture. The story begins in 1881 when William Wirt Winchester, son of Oliver Winchester, founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, passed away, leaving his widow, Sarah Winchester, a vast fortune. Distraught over the deaths of her husband and their infant child, and reportedly haunted by the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles, Sarah moved from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Jose, California.

She purchased a modest eight-room farmhouse, which over the next 38 years, she transformed into a sprawling mansion with over 150 rooms, featuring 10,000 windows, trap doors, spy holes, and staircases leading nowhere. The construction was continuous, as legend suggests that Sarah believed ongoing building would appease the spirits and keep her alive. Her half ownership of the Winchester Arms Company provided ample funds to sustain her never-ending project. The house, designed to house and confuse the spirits, remains a mysterious and must-visit attraction for those fascinated by its ghostly lore.

The Winchester Mystery House gardens feature over 10,000 box hedges and hundreds of varieties of trees and plants.

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Sarah Winchester's approach to expanding her San Jose residence was unconventional and relentless. Without any formal plans or blueprints, she employed workers around the clock for the 38 years she lived there. The result is the Winchester Mystery House, an architectural marvel spread across 4.5 acres, featuring a maze of rooms with bizarre features such as skylights opening onto the floors above, indoor balconies, and doors leading into walls. Sarah's closest attempt at planning involved sketching ideas on napkin backs, which she often handed to her workers, only to change her mind and alter the designs soon after. Legend even has it that she never slept in the same room twice, with work ceasing only upon her death in 1922.

Sarah's modifications to the house were not just peculiar but also innovative. She was a keen gardener and added a conservatory equipped with an indoor irrigation system to water plants at various levels. This space also boasted a steam-driven heating system, indoor plumbing, and a personal shower with heated water. The mansion's interior is equally impressive, decorated with gold and silver accents and sparkling chandeliers. Despite using abundant California redwood in construction, she had it stained to alter its natural color and grain, as she did not favor the original appearance of redwood.

Currently, the usual hour-long tour of the Winchester Mystery House is unavailable due to pandemic precautions. However, the landmark is offering 40-minute virtual tours that allow you to explore its fascinating history from the comfort of your home. While a virtual tour provides a thorough insight into the architectural marvel and its storied past, it might not capture the full experience of potential paranormal activities. Employees have reported unexplained phenomena such as strange sounds, mysterious crying, icy chills, and door knobs that turn by themselves.

What are your thoughts on the Winchester House, and would you consider visiting it in person? Share your views in the comments below.

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