The Winchester Mystery House

The spacious and confusing labyrinth of a mansion is a major tourist attraction for San Jose, California complete with its own Cafe on the grounds, a gift shop, and a video tour set up for those who are not able to climb the mansion’s many stairs.

The Winchester mystery house is perhaps one of the most well known paranormal locations in the US. These days, the spacious and confusing labyrinth of a mansion is a major tourist attraction for San Jose, California complete with its own Cafe on the grounds, a gift shop, and a video tour set up for those who are not able to climb the mansion’s many stairs.

But long before it became a money maker, it was home to a woman named Sarah Winchester.  

She was born around 1840 in New Haven, Connecticut. She was known as the Belle of her home town and enjoyed all the advantages of a privileged life, including a private education. She is said to have been a brilliant pianist and to have spoken four foreign languages.

At the age of 22, she married William Winchester- the son of Oliver Fisher Winchester

 His  company manufactured the original Winchester repeating rifle. The powerful and increasingly wealthy couple was, reportedly, very happy together. Unfortunately, it was not to last. only four years after their marriage, they suffered a tragedy of monumental proportions when their infant daughter died of what was then an incurable and mysterious disease called marasmus. Understandably enough, Mrs. Winchester fell into a depression which was only worsened when, fifteen years later, she lost her husband as well to tuberculosis. Faced with a double loss, and unable to cope on her own, she turned to a spiritualist for help.  

During a session, the spiritualist told her that her husband was in attendance, and that he was telling her to tell sarah that there was a horrible curse, a supposed result of the bloodshed caused by the main source of the family fortune, the winchester rifle, on the family, which had already taken the life of he and their daughter- and even worse, it would soon take her life, too- unless she sold the family home on and headed west in search of a new place and built a new home. The catch was, that she must never stop building, or the spirits would find her and take her life. Soon after the session, she had sold the house, as instructed and began her journey west, searching for the perfect place to build her new home. Eventually, she found what she was looking for in San Jose. She bought an unfinished 6 room home and the 162 acres it sat upon from a Dr. Caldwell, and began work on her new version of the home. For the next 36 years, her team of carpenters and craftsmen demolished, constructed, changed, and reworked one section of the house after the other. It is said that she kept the team of 22 at work 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Each morning, Sarah would meet with the foreman to give her instructions for the work that day. While her plans were chaotic, her instincts were brilliant, and the house grew to an impressive 7 stories in height before suffering extensive damage in the 1906 earthquake.

Despite her occupation with her work, Sarah is said to have been a lonely soul, and reportedly spent many sleepless nights playing the piano into the silence. After the earthquake, the house was rebuilt, although Sarah had some parts of the house sealed off forever. It is believed that this was to trap spirits who had fallen into the lower part of the house during the earthquake within the space forever- thus freeing her of at least some of her burden. Perhaps in a similar motivation, after the earthquake Sarah had many chimneys installed into the restored structure- except, they didn’t serve any purpose or connect to any fireplaces. It is believed that this was based upon an old belief that spirits like to come and go through them, and that perhaps Sarah was trying to release some of the spirits from the house. Sarah eventually died, in 1922 in her sleep after a seance with the spirits. When she passed, she left everything to her niece, who had been helping her for many years. The niece took what she wanted, and sold the rest on to a group of investors who turned it into the tourist attraction it is today.

Strange occurrences are regularly reported by visitors to the house.

It is hard to take these reports seriously when you consider that the house has been geared to be a haunted attraction?

The Winchester mystery house therefore remains exactly that- a mystery.

The Winchester Mystery House