The Mysteries of Winchester
Oh no! I’m definitely not talking about that new horror movie. What I’m talking about is the mansion that inspired it. What’s so huge about a frigging mansion eh?
The Winchester Mansion isn’t just your average holiday destination. Despite its cheerful and yet formidable appearance, it is shrouded in mystery and horror. So first, let’s go through some general and statistical facts about this huge house.
- It is located at 525 South Winchester Blvd., San Jose, California.
- It was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester.
- This Queen Anne style mansion is renowned for its size, architectural curiosities, and lack of any master building plan.
- It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated California historical landmark.
Um, ok! So what’s all the fuss about? You’ll see in a minute.
It all started with William Wirt Winchester’s death due to tuberculosis in 1881. Overcome with grief, Sarah consulted with a spiritualist who claimed he could commune with the dead. She sought solace, but instead, she received a bone-chilling warning.
The Winchester family created the Winchester rifle that was known as “the gun that won the west”. They ran a very successful business of firearm.
So, through the medium, the spirit of William told his wife that their tragedies (which included the death of their only daughter Annie, at six weeks old) were a result of the blood money that they made off of the Winchester rifles.
Vengeful ghosts would seek her out, or so he warned. To overcome this and protect herself, William told her that she must build a home for herself and also for the spirits who had fallen from the terrible weapon.
However, there was one condition, the construction of the house must never cease, if it did, she would die!
She was advised to leave their home in New Haven Connecticut behind, and move west.
And move west she did. Sarah purchased an eight-room farmhouse in San Jose, California, in 1886. And then she began building. Sarah appointed a crew of carpenters, who split shifts so construction could go on day and night, 24/7, 52 weeks a year, for 38 years. She built, built and she built some more! Construction never stopped. From a small farmhouse, it grew into a devastatingly huge mansion. And then on September 5, 1922, Sarah passed away in that very mansion due to heart failure in her sleep. It’s said that just as the carpenters heard the news of her death, they quit so abruptly that they left half-hammered nails protruding from walls.
The house is full of architectural oddities, all thanks to Sarah’s bizarre demands. These include trap doors, secret passages, a skylight in the floor, spider web windows and staircases that meet a dead end. Oh and there are doors that open to blank, solid walls, and a dangerous door on the second floor that leads to, well, nothing much except for an alarming drop to the yard far below.
An earthquake in 1906 rattled the house and trapped Sarah. It caused three floors of the then seven-storied building to cave in. A tower plus several other rooms were destroyed but they were never rebuilt, only cordoned off. As for Sarah, she was safe in the Daisy Bedroom, although she had to be dug out as its entrance was blocked by rubble.
Some say that the labyrinthine structure of the house was to confuse the ghosts, allowing Sarah some peace and also some time to escape them. Sarah was the sole architect of the mansion, hence she alone knew all of its secrets.
No one is sure how many rooms the house held. It boasts of 950 doors, 10,000 windows, 40 stairways 52 skylights, 47 fireplaces, 6 kitchens, a trio of elevators, wool insulation, carbide gaslights, electricity, and an indoor shower, complete with a sewage drainage system ( some of which were ground-breaking once).
Sarah also had a strange obsession, she was obsessed with the number 13. The mansion has many 13-paned windows, 13-paneled ceilings as well as 13-step stairways. Even her will had 13 parts and she signed it 13 times. But most astonishing of all might be the house’s 13th bathroom, which has 13 windows of its own. How charming!
It’s a popular tourist attraction now and is also cited as one of the most haunted places in America.
Would like to spend a night at Winchester?