Today on our haunted history edition, we visit a mansion with a chilling past. The Winchester Mansion also known as the Winchester Mystery House belonged to Sarah Winchester, the only surviving heir to the Winchester gun fortune. After losing her husband, son-in-law, and 5-week old baby, Sarah Winchester moves to California in 1885. In 1886, she purchases a 2 story farmhouse located close to San Jose California and begins to build on what will become a never-ending remodel. Within a decade the quaint farmhouse is transformed into a 7 story Victorian Mansion. The remodeling doesn’t cease until her death 36 years later.
In 1924, Harry Houdini visits the house on Halloween night with the hopes of uncovering famed paranormal stories. It is said he left more perplexed then when he arrived. He referred to the Mansion as the Mystery house. One of the most noted stories was that Sarah Winchester was not only fascinated by the spiritualistic macabre, it is said she herself often practiced rituals and in a séance room at her home.
She was a woman dealing with the loss of her loved ones and eagerly looked for ways to communicate with the spirits of her deceased members on a nightly basis. These same spirits were the supposed guides she consulted with who would tell her what to build or tear down next. The house went through constant remodeling. As soon as a room was built and designed, she would have it torn down and begin to rebuild. There was a room she favored and did not remodel for some time. The great san fransisco earthquake demolished the room and was reported to be the only room in the house that was destroyed. Sarah claimed it was her punishment for not tearing the room down and displeasing the spirits of her loved ones.
Although these stories are said to remain a mystery, there’s no doubt that there are strange happenings that occurred there. I personally had a personal experience that lead me to believe that these stories hold much truth to them. A few years ago, I took a trip to the infamous mansion with my best friend. Ghost stories were paired with the tour naturally (great selling point). While standing in a hallway as the tour guide continues his haunted spiel, an old chandelier dropped considerably over the head of a woman that was standing beneath it. Was it rigged to add to the fascade? Perhaps. It was in fact enough to scare the living crap out the poor lady sending her to restroom directly after the incident.
I myself decided to trail behind the group because I love to snoop uh I mean take my time. As we moved on to the “Séance room” something weird happened. We tried to turn around and couldn’t open the door. The doorknob kept turning and was completely sealed as if you needed a key but no recollection to ever seeing a keyhole.
As dark as the rumors can be about the former resident, it’s truly an experience and site to see. There are doors that open to nowhere with a silent invitation to plunge to your own death (these have been locked for apparent safety reasons). There are walkways that seem to shrink as you walk along them which gives you a first-hand experience on what Alice in wonderland might have gone through when she became small then large.
The house itself is one that will undoubtedly make your head spin. It’s gorgeous décor and elegant original tiffany stained glass windows (house is said to have over 10,000 panels) are absolutely jaw dropping. There’s priceless imported wallpaper with sprinkles of diamond dust, beautiful Victorian furniture and an overall morbid presence. I recommend this historic landmark as a must see if you happen to visit Northern California. It’s definitely worth the trip but not somewhere I’d like to be alone at night unless there’s a million dollar prize waiting for me the next morning.