A Real American Horror Story: The Winchester Mystery House

Do you know about one of the most famous haunted mansion in America?

The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion in San Jose, California, which was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester.
The Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion is mainly known for its renowned size, its architectural curiosities, its lack of any master building plan, and strange upcoming.

Winchester House 910px.jpg
By The original uploader was Gentgeen at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, Link

After her husband’s death from tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah Winchester inherited more than $20.5 million and received nearly 50% ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Tabloids at the time claimed that a Boston Medium told her that she needed to leave her home in New Haven and head west to California. Other sources claimed that her family was haunted by ghosts and by moving West and continuously building them a house she could please these spirits. The ghosts and spirits are believed to be of those who have died from a Winchester Rifle.

In 1884 she had purchased an unfinished farmhouse in San Jose and began building the mansion. She hired carpenters to work on the house day and night until it became a 7 story mansion. She never used an architect. The mansion seemed most strange because there were doors and stairs that would go nowhere, windows that would overlook other rooms, and her fascination with the number 13 would be found everywhere.

By 1906 the house was 7 stories high, 161 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms (one unfinished), 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, 2 basements, and 3 elevators. Since the home is built on a “floating foundation” it’s believed it’s what saved it from the 1906 earthquake. After that, the mansion is only 4 stories high.

Since Mrs. Winchester dealt with debilitating arthritis, special “easy riser” stairways were installed as a replacement for her original steep construction. This made it so she could move around in her home more freely. There was also only 1 working toilet for Winchester, but all of the other restrooms were decoys to confuse spirits. This is also believed to be why she slept in a different room each night.

Mrs. Winchester was also known to never skimp on the adornments she believed contributed to the mansions architectural beauty. Many of the stained glass winders were created by the Tiffany Company. Some of it was even designed by her including a “spider web” window that featured her favorite web design and the repetition of the number 13. Sadly this window was never installed but it does exist in the “$25,000 Storage Room”. There was also a window designed by Tiffany himself so that when the sunlight hits the prismatic crystals, a  rainbow is cast across the room. Unfortunately, this window was installed on an interior wall in a room with no light exposure, so the effect was prevented from being seen.

Mrs. Winchester’s believed that the number 13 would help ward off malevolent spirits. These spirits are said to have directly inspired her to build the house the way she did. The number 13 and spider web motifs carried spiritual significance for her. The home still has and an imported chandelier that was modified to accommodate 13 candles instead of 12. Wall clothes hooks are always in multiples of 13. Drain covers on the sinks contain 13 holes. Also, every Friday the 13th, the large bell on the property is run 13 times at 1300 hours (1:00PM) in tribute to Sarah Winchester.

After Mrs. Winchester died, all of her possessions were given to her niece and personal secretary. Her niece took everything she wanted and sold the rest in a private auction. Mrs. Winchester never mentioned her mansion in her will and appraisers considered the house worthless due to the damage caused by the earthquake and unfinished design. It was sold in an auction to a local investor for over $135,000 to John and Mayme Brown. 5 Months after Mrs. Winchester’s death the house became open to the public with Mayme Brown serving as the first tour guide.

The Winchester Mystery House is still open to the public for tours. The Mansion Tour lasts about 1 hour 5 minutes that will tour 110 of the 160 rooms. Highlights of this tour include the “$25,000 Storage Room”, Sarah’s bedroom, a Seance Room, the Morning Room, The Grand Ballroom, the Venetian Dining Room, The “Hall of Fires”, and much more.
Prices for this tour range from $20.00-$37.00

The also recently just added a new special “Explore More Tour”, which will take guests to off-limits never-before open to the public areas. This tour lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes and prices range from $20.00-$47.00.

If you’re brave enough to venture this mystery house you can check out the available tour dates & times here.


If you’re not brave enough to visit the house for yourself, there is a movie coming out February 2nd, 2018!

It stars Helen Mirren (Known for: The Queen, The Hundred-Foot Journey, & The Fate of the Furious), Jason Clarke (Known for: Zero Dark Thirty, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, & Everest), & Sarah Snook (Known for: Predestination, Steve Jobs, & Jessabelle).

Check out the movie trailer here!


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