The world is full of beautiful places. While some of them will put your heart in awe, others will spook you out. One such place is the Winchester Mystery house. Located in San Jose, California, this swanky mansion has a lot of ghost stories revolving around its existence.
For over 40 years, Sarah Winchester of San Jose, California, owned the Winchester Mystery Mansion. The mansion was elaborate, built to her bizarre specifications. It is said that the mistress of the house introduced these specifications to appease the ghost she thought was haunting her.
Today is Friday, the 13th, and we bring you the story of the Winchester Mystery House. Read it till the end to find out everything about this place, including its haunting facts.
Who Was Sarah Winchester?
Sarah Winchester was an eccentric woman. She was the widow of William Wirt Winchester, heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Born around the 1840s, Sarah grew up in all luxury and privilege. She spoke four languages, attended the best schools, married well, and gave birth to her doting daughter, Annie.
When she was in her late 20s, tragedies started ruining her life. Her daughter died at a young age, followed by the death of her husband more than a decade later. William died in 1881, and after his death, Sarah inherited a whopping $20 million. She also became the owner of fifty percent of the Winchester Arms company. Her inheritance left her a lot of money equal to $1,000 a day.
Sarah Bought the Winchester Palace
After the death of her daughter and husband, Sarah decided to travel from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Jose to start a new life. She bought a small eight-room farmhouse that later became the Winchester Mystery House. At the time of its purchase, the house was small and unfinished. However, it changed when the lady bought it.
Soon after, Sarah hired carpenters to work around the clock to alter the small house into an elite seven-story mansion. As there was a lack of plan or presence of a qualified architect, the home witnessed haphazard construction. The rooms were added onto the exterior walls, letting their windrows overlook other rooms. The carpenters also added multiple staircases having different-sized risers. The arrangement gave it a distorted look.
The alterations looked unorganized and pointless as the staircase would ascent various levels, ending up abruptly. To add to it, the doors would open to walls, and the hallways would turn the corner and end in a dead-end.
The construction did not stop here. Sarah wanted everything to be built in redwood. However, she did not like the look of the redwood and ordered the workers to cover it with faux grain and stain. By the time the construction was completed, over 20,000 gallons of paint were used to cover the redwood.
A Luxurious Mansion
Her house was an oddly laid out mansion with seven stories, 47 fireplaces, 161 rooms, 10,000 panes of glass, three elevators, two basements, and a mysterious fun-house-like interior.
Any outsider who set foot inside the property could tell that Sarah didn’t spare a single expense in making the interiors look so elaborate. The chandeliers hung from the ceilings above were made in gold and silver. The house embraced dozens of artful stained-glass windows created by Tiffany & Co. The products from some of the best designers, including Louis Comfort Tiffany himself, were used to decorate the property.
Things didn’t stop here. The fixtures and plumbing work of the house were more luxurious. The plumbing system in the Winchester House was ahead of its time. It boasted indoor plumbing that no other home had during the time. There were features like coveted hot running water, push-button gas lighting, and forced-air heating. The whole construction was the epitome of luxury.
In 1904, an earthquake struck San Jose, and of which the house sustained a hefty amount of damage. The floating foundation saved the property from collapse. The top three floors in the house were removed, leaving a four-storeyed building.
The Haunted Legacy of the Mansion
Before the earthquake, the mansion was large enough to draw the attention and speculating eyes of the community. An article by the San Francisco Chronicle was released in 1895 that laid the foundation of the Winchester Mystery House legend. According to it, the sound of the hammer was never hushed. Sarah Winchester believed that when the construction is finished, she would die.
After this, many stories about the house being haunted spread like wildfire. Throughout the years of its construction, the mistress of the house never confirmed she was building a haunted house. But the stories revolving around its construction signaled the presence of a ghost.
The contractors who worked on the house reported having daily séances with local mediums to reach good spirits. She consulted the good spirits to decipher the means to appease the spirits for whom Sarah was allegedly building the property. These spirits are what called Winchester to make many illogical additions to the property.
Sarah Winchester died on September 5th, 1922, of heart failure. After her death, her niece and personal secretary bequeathed all her possessions. Her niece took everything she wanted and sold the rest in a private auction. The mansion, too, was sold at an auction to a local investor for over $135,000. It was subsequently leased for ten years to John and Mayme Brown. The duo purchased the house. Five months after Winchester’s death, the house was made open to the public, where Mayme served as the first tour guide.
As of today, the property is owned by Winchester Investments LLC. The home retains its unique touches reflecting the mistress’s beliefs and her reported engagement with warding off malevolent spirits.
Haunting Facts about the Winchester Mystery House
Here are some haunting facts about the Winchester Mystery house to blow your mind.
It Was Under Constant Construction for 38 years
The construction of the Winchester Mystery house took the longest to complete. Sarah employed a crew of carpenters who would split their shifts to continue the construction day and night. The construction stopped only after Sarah died of heart failure in her sleep. The carpenters immediately quit working on the house.
The House Was Built Out of Fear
Many stories suggest that the mansion was built out of fear. Sarah Winchester wanted to overcome grief in the wake of her spouse’s death. Some folklores state that Sarah even sought out a spiritualist to communicate. While she was looking for solace or closer, she was given a chilling warning by the spirits. It may be one of the reasons why the house became haunted.
The Architecture is Extremely Odd
The Winchester Mystery House is unlike any opulent property. Although millions of dollars went into the construction, it comprises all the architectural oddities. There is a trap of doors, secret passages, spider web windows, a skylight on the floor, and many other odd features.
More Like A Labyrinth
Some suggest the labyrinth layout of the Winchester house was made intentionally to confuse the ghosts and allow the owner some peace and means to escape them. She did not hire an architect to design it. The whole design was her plan. No master building plan of the house was ever discovered.
Her Will Did Not Mention the House
As strange as it may get, Sarah never mentioned the house in her will. The conspicuous absence of the mansion from her will became a puzzle for many.
Sarah was a Crazy Woman
A lot many stories, legends, and folklore revolve around the property as well as her owner. Some of them state that Sarah was crazy. She was also coping with her grief with a flurry of activity. Claims of her being crazy were later denied by the historian Janan Boehme. He painted a happier picture of the owner and stated that the continual renovations reminded Sarah of the good times when she and her spouse built their home together in New Haven.
Nobody knows the Number of Rooms
After Sarah’s death, the property was converted into a tourist attraction. But when trying to get the count of the number of rooms, the new owners always kept on coming up with different numbers. After years of renovations, it was stated that there were 160 rooms. However, nobody knows whether the figure is correct or not.
Sarah was Obsessed with the Number 13
The construction of the property also revealed a few things about Winchester’s obsession with the number 13. During the construction, she insisted that many things should relate to the number 13.
For instance, the house was 13-paned windows and 13-paneled ceilings. It also includes a 13-step stairway. The will of the owner also reflected her obsession with this number. It had 13 parts which she signed 13 times. The 13th bathroom of the house comprises 13 windows.
One of the Most Haunted Places in America
The Winchester Mystery House remains one of the most haunted properties in the United States of America. It is a destination of paranormal encounters. The corridors of the third floor are the hub of all the ghostly events. The tour guides claimed to hear footsteps and a voice whispering their names.
Would you like to Visit the Winchester Palace?
Tell us in the comments below.