The Winchester Mystery House has long been the subject of fascination for anyone interested in the occult (it’s supposedly haunted), the strange, the sad, or just architecture in general.
A little background, for those of you who are unfamiliar: The Winchester House was built in San Jose, California by Sarah Winchester, the widow of Winchester rifle manufacturer William Wirt Winchester. She lived there from 1888 until she died in 1922…and never stopped adding on to the house the entire time.
As a result, the Victorian mansion is (understandably) monstrous. It boasts 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms, 9 kitchens, and, as of a few days ago, 161 rooms.
The new room was discovered in the attic during a preservation project, and it contains a pump organ, a Victorian couch, paintings, and a sewing room. It had been boarded up, likely by Sarah herself after being trapped in the room during the 1906 earthquake. Sarah believed the event – and her entrapment – to be the work of evil, angry spirits.
You see, the widow Winchester believed herself to be haunted by the spirits of those murdered by her husband’s rifles (which you can imagine would add up).
“Because of the many deaths caused at the hands of the Winchester guns, many believe the mansion is home to several ghosts…One of those who thought ghosts were present was the builder of the home herself…she even conducted seances to help her come up with the plan of the home.”
Sarah’s paranoia (or sensitivity) was the reason the mansion is not only huge, but bizarre. There are staircases that lead nowhere – straight into the ceiling, in fact. Doors that open from the upper stories to the outside with nothing to break your fall should you be caught unawares. Doors that open to reveal brick walls, trap doors, and other features that Sarah felt could confuse the spirits that she felt constantly hounded her in her own home.
The home and the new room are open to the public for viewing, and ghost tours are conducted regularly.
A new film, Winchester, is set to begin filming there (and in other locations) beginning in March of 2017. It stars Helen Mirren as the eccentric widow, and Jason Clarke as the psychologist sent to evaluate her mental state…only to realize there might be some truth behind her madness after all.
h/t: Kansas City Star