Ever heard of the Winchester Mystery House? Located in San Jose, California, the mysterious mansion was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of the Winchester gun tycoon, William Wirt Winchester. But here’s the catch. Ever since it was built in 1884, tons of creepy coincidences have occurred on the property. Which makes us wonder: What’s the real story behind the Winchester Mystery House?
Behind the myth
First of all, the Winchester Mystery House is no ordinary mansion. In fact, the strange home has rooms with fake doors, hallways that lead nowhere, and staircases that don’t go anywhere. So, what’s the real deal about the Winchester Mansion? Here’s what we know for sure.
Back in 1862, young Sarah Winchester married the love of her life, William Wirt Winchester. However, things took a turn for the worse when their one and only child, Annie Pardee Winchester, passed away as an infant in the late 1860s. From then on, William focused on controlling the Winchester Repeating Arms Company until his death in 1881. Once William died, his grieving wife was given complete control of his firearms company.
According to legend, Sarah was so distraught over the loss of her husband and child that she started going crazy. On top of that, Sarah was apparently haunted by the ghosts of the people that had been killed by Winchester rifles over time. Supposedly, Sarah turned to psychic medium Adam Coons for help.
What did he tell her? Allegedly, Coons advised Sarah to move to the West Coast to build a house for all of the spirits that were haunting her. That’s when Sarah began her insane construction project in the San Jose area. Nevertheless, American author and historian Pamela Haag, Ph.D. claimed that Sarah Winchester kept building the Winchester Mystery House to keep herself alive.
As if that’s not enough, Haag also stated that Sarah continued constructing her mansion to make the ghosts go away as well. Regardless, one thing is true: Sarah hired 16 men to help her build her house at all hours of the day. The craziest part? Construction only stopped when Sarah died from heart failure in 1922!
Although the Winchester Mystery House looked ordinary on the outside, the inside was stranger than fiction. That’s because Sarah’s construction workers didn’t rely on blueprints to create the mansion. Instead, they were forced to work around a crude architectural sketch made by Sarah on spare scraps of paper. The result? A very confusing-looking home with rooms inside of rooms and doors that have no rooms behind them.
But here’s the kicker: the Winchester Mystery House is actually super stunning. As a matter of act, one of its rooms seems to have wooden floorboards that change color when the light hits them. Plus, there are stained glass windows with Shakespearean quotes on them. In addition, you can find the number 13 hidden in multiple places throughout the gigantic house. How do we know this? Troy Taylor’s website Prairie Ghosts said that many of the windows of the Winchester Mystery House have exactly 13 panes of glass.
Also, the majority of the rooms in the mansion have 13 windows as well. It gets better: Sarah’s floors are split into 13 sections, her walls contain 13 panels, and her stairs include 13 steps. Even the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry added that the Winchester Mystery House is home to 13 sink drains and 13 stars for the leadlight window. This is crazy: Sarah’s seance room literally had 13 coat hooks in it too. Talk about superstitious!
A strange obsession
Curious about what happened in the seance room at the Winchester Mystery House? You’ve come to the right place. Also known as the Blue Room, the seance room has one way in but three ways out. That includes a door leading to a 10-foot fall to the mansion’s kitchen. Not to mention another exit that opens onto a tiny sink. Rumor has it that Sarah spent every single night in her seance room from midnight until two o’clock in the morning.
Even though no one else was allowed in the room, some people have speculated that Sarah went in there to talk to spirits for guidance on her construction project. Meanwhile, others believed that she was speaking to the ghosts that had been killed by Winchester rifles. Nevertheless, researcher Annalee Newitz also suggested that Sarah was really using her time to spy on her maids through secret windows. The truth is, no one knows what really happened in the seance room every evening.
Unfortunately, the Winchester Mystery House underwent some major damage from an earthquake in 1906. And get this: By 2016, a new room was discovered within the Winchester Mystery House. Surprisingly, ABC News reported that an attic room had been boarded up following the earthquake in 1906. Why Supposedly, Sarah thought that mean-spirited ghosts caused the earthquake, so she sealed them up.
The weirdest part is that Sarah’s attic was actually an ideal time capsule, complete with vintage paintings, a sewing machine, and a couch. Plus, an organ and dress forms were tucked into her attic too. At this time, the Winchester Mystery House was already open for tours for almost 90 years. As a result, the Mercury News stated that the mansion’s general manager opened up 40 rooms to the public that were previously closed. Now, Sarah’s strange obsession is on full display!