Winchester Mystery House built for 38 years according to ghosts instructions to appease their souls by building an outstanding mansion for them.
Featured in many Paranormal TV Shows, attraction investigators from around the world, including the famous Harry Houdini the mansion is a mix of elegant and bizarre elements captivating the imagination.
So Who was Sarah Winchester?
Sarah Lockwood Pardee born in 1840, from Leonard Pardee and Sarah Burns, a carriage manufacturer in New Haven, Connecticut.
She studied at the best private schools of the time, speaking four languages, and praised for her quality at the piano.
In 1862, Sarah’s life changed, when she married William Wirt Winchester.
William was the son of Oliver Fisher Winchester, the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut and manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle.
Life was good for William and Sarah, but in 1866, their infant daughter, Annie, died from marasmus disease.
On March 1881, William Winchester passed away from tuberculosis.
Sarah Winchester received several million dollars in cash and 777 shares of stock in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, a fortune today, but even greater over a hundred years ago.
Mrs. Winchester contact with the other side
Urging for peace of mind and grieve, Mrs. Winchester seeks the help from psychics.
As a result, the mediums informed her that her family recent tragedies were caused by the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by Winchester rifles.
The only way to escape the fury of the ghosts were that Sarah Winchester should move to West and build a mansion in honor of those poor souls.
But to assure her life was not in danger, Mrs. Wincherster could never finish the construction of the house.
Mrs. Winchester left Connecticut to visit a niece, California and there she found the spot that would perfect for building the Winchester Mansion.
By 1884, Sarah Winchester bought the unfinished farm house, about three miles west of San Jose, California.
For the next 38 years, she was ahead of the construction of a unique project, renowned for its size, its architectural curiosities, and its lack of any master building plan know as the Winchester Mystery House.
Building the Winchester Mystery House
Sarah Winchester immediately hired workers in shifts “around the clock”.
The ghosts seem pleased with her.
When Sarah’s mother-in-law died, in 1897, she received more 2,000 shares from the company, and at that time she accumulated just under fifty percent of the capital stock.
With that Sarah Winchester had an income approximately of $1,000 a day. At that time an entire house could be built for under $1,000.
By the beginning of the new century, the initial “house” of eight rooms grown to an amazing seven-story mansion.
The Winchester’s estate grew to 161 acres of farmland, including orchards of apricots, plum, and walnut trees that also generated income to Sarah’s “project”.
Sarah Winchester also owned homes in Atherton, Los Altos, and Palo Alto, California.
The strange lady from the Winchester Mystery House
Mrs. Winchester was loved by her employees and neighbors. She welcomed neighborhood children to play in her garden, inviting them in to eat ice cream or play her piano.
But the way the house’s project was conducted by Mrs. Winchester, it generated rumors and gossip in the local community, that called her a Lady of Mystery.
The tall cypress hedge surrounding the house, planted by the gardeners, only added to the rumors.
Also, stories that the Lady of Mystery covered her face with a dark veil and if a servant happened to get a glimpse of her face by accident, consequently, he or she would be fired.
The Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is predominantly made of redwood, a request by Mrs. Winchester, but she didn’t appreciate the look, so she ordered it to be stain and applied a faux grain finish.
The mansion accommodates some amazing features and some strange curiosities.
- A ladder that ends up in the ceiling;
- A zigzag staircase with seven deviations and forty-four steps, where one arrives at the top climbing three meters.
- A door that leads to two floors free fall;
- Numerous hidden passages;
- It has only one function working toilet, but all other twelve restrooms are decoys to confuse the ghosts;
- The Winchester Mystery House is built using a floating foundation. Because of that, this ingenuity saved the mansion from total collapse in the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. This type of construction allows the home to shift freely, it’s not attached to its brick foundation;
- By the 1906 earthquake, the house reached seven stories high, today remains with “only” four stories high;
- Initially planned to have 8 bedrooms, they built another 32 bedrooms;
- One ballroom completed and another unfinished;
- Most of the 47 fireplaces included hinged iron drops for removing the ashes and 17 chimneys, but with evidence of two others;
- Include two basements;
- It is known to be the first to use wool for insulation;
- Carbide gas lights in the house were fed by the estate’s own gas manufacturing plant;
- Ahead of her time, Mrs. Winchester ordered window drip pans and zinc subfloor to be installed. When the plants were watered, the excess of water would be redirected by a series of drain pipes to the garden below.
The end of the Winchester Mystery House construction
With the past of the years, Mrs. Winchester suffered greatly from arthritis.
On September 5, 1922, Sarah Winchester passed away in her sleep from heart failure.
She was laid to rest beside her beloved husband, at the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.
With the news of her death, the construction at the Winchester Mystery House stopped, carpenters even left nails half driven in place.
Mrs. Winchester’s personal property, including the furnishings, household goods, pictures, jewelry, and papers were left to her niece, Mrs. Marian Merriman Marriott, according to the will.
Therefore, Mrs. Marriott quickly auctioned off the furnishings and household goods. It took six trucks working non-stop for six weeks to move all the furnishings away.
The hurry is explained, the mansion and farm were not mentioned specifically in the will, so it became part of Mrs. Winchester’s estate and were sold by her trustees, the Union Trust Company of San Francisco.
Paranormal Events at the Winchester Mystery House
But beside the gossip, other strange events attracted the attention and the curiosity from the neighbors and visitors of the mansion.
A bell ringing at midnight and 2 a.m could be heard by the neighbors, for some, it would indicate the arrival and departure of the ghost that haunted Sarah Winchester.
Consequently, Sarah Winchester never slept in the same bedroom two nights in a row, with the intention to confuse any malevolent spirits that wanted to harm her.
Beside the mirror over the fireplace in the alcove, only other two mirrors allowed in the entire house.
According to legend, seems like, the sight of the ghosts reflection could cause them to vanish.
The Most Haunted Room from the Winchester Mystery House
Inside so many rooms that exist in the mansion, at the very center of the house one is special: The Blue Room.
Since Mrs. Winchester never had a master set of blueprints, seems like it was there where she conducted her private séance to help with her building plans and for protection from vengeful spirits.
Some believe that by the blue room is a portal for visitors of another dimension.
Rumors tell she would wear one of 13 special colored robes while there and only people invited by her could be in the room.
Paranormal Activity at the Winchester Mystery House
As any old house, the Winchester Mystery House has its cracking noises a collection of events despite explanation and curiosity.
Some witness temporarily loses the eyesight, sudden change of temperature and seen and/or hear locked doorknobs turn.
John and Jack Sttubert, that worked at the house witness something out of the ordinary.
“I turned, looked down the hall, and saw a man standing there. Then he disappeared and I went down to see if there was anyone in the house, but there was no one there. I’ve never believed in spirits, ghosts or anything like that, but now I believe you do something in this house.” – Jack Sttubert.
During the years from 1973 to 1981, Brent Miller and his wife were caretakers of the mansion.
Mr. Miller reported hearing someone breathe in an empty room, also one night he could hear footsteps in the bedroom where Mrs. Winchester died.
During one night, he woke up to the sound of a screw being detached, then hitting the floor and bouncing onto a carpet runner. He searched for any evidence but found nothing.
Paranormal Investigators at the Winchester Mystery House
The first renowned paranormal investigator to communicate with the other side at the Winchester Mansion was Harry Houdini, in 1924.
He went for a private midnight tour and séance, but it is unknown if he succeeds collecting any evidence.
The Portland Oregon Daily Journal, in November 1924, documented Mr. Houdini visited the Winchester Mystery House.
On recently years the Winchester Mystery House featured in a large number of Paranormal TV shows, such as Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunter and Most Haunted.
The Winchester Mystery House coming to the big screen
CBS Films announced has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Helen Mirren’s drama “Winchester” from Bullitt Entertainment and Diamond Pictures.
Helen Mirren will play firearm heiress Sarah Winchester, written by Tom Vaughan and directed by brothers Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (“Predestination”).
Go see for yourself the Winchester Mystery House
Currently, the Winchester Mystery House is open for public visitation.
The mansion is open every day of the year, except at Christmas, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
For more information visit the official website.
While that, the reasons to Mrs. Winchester to build the Winchester Mystery House may never be confirmed, unless you decide to investigate it.