The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion completely built by ghosts. Ok, this is not true, but if you were to sum up the cryptic history behind the house, you might find this statement shockingly as close to the truth as it can get.
If you never heard of the house, you’re in for a treat. Let’s go over some numbers first:
- Construction on the house continued for 38 years and only ended because of Ms. Winchester’s death.
- There were so many rooms that were built and remodeled that it is believed that 500 to 600 rooms were built in the house.
- There are 160 completed rooms.
- The mansion has seven floors.
- Mrs. Winchester had 47 fireplaces and 17 chimneys.
- The Grand Ballroom cost $9,000 to complete when a house at that time would usually cost $1,000 to complete.
- One craftsman spent 33 years constructing Mrs. Winchester’s parquet floors.
- There are 13 windows, 13 bathrooms, wall panels, and many staircases had 13 steps.
If you can imagine, the house had a very eerie allure about it. Why was the house constantly under construction; why are there so many rooms; why did she spend so much money; and most importantly, why would anyone build a house like this?
Sarah Winchester was believed to be followed by ghosts.
Her husband was the rifle mogul William Winchester whose rifles were dubbed “The Gun That Won the West”. After her husband’s and daughter’s death, Sarah went to a psychic who told her that the victims of her husband’s rifles will haunt her, and she must build a house for her and her ghosts. If she ever stops building, she will die. Sarah moved west and began construction. Rumors have it that she built the house as a giant maze to hide from the evil ghosts, but she also built extravagant rooms to welcome the good ghosts.
It’s amazing what Sarah went through to ensure her immortality and safety from these ghoulish spirits. It’s not only the size of the house, but the nonsensical construction of this mansion is what’s truly chilling. There are stairways that lead to ceilings, doorways that lead to nowhere or even a straight drop the lawn below. The Switchback Staircase has seven flights of stairs with forty two steps but only rises about nine feet. There’s another staircase that descends seven steps then rises eleven. There are countless examples of her deathly fear of evil spirits and her absolute taste for extravagance.
Along with hallways and stairways zigzagging around her mansion, she also bought the finest materials such as exquisite woods for her cabinets and floors, imported glass windows from Austria and Tiffany’s of New York, rare satin and silks that adorned her rooms, and German silver and bronze inlaid doors just to name a few examples.
Mrs. Winchester, herself, was an interesting character (no surprise, really). She used to hold a séance every night to consult spirits on upcoming building plans and to protect herself from the evil spirits. She would also sleep in a different room every night to confuse ghosts. There are stories of her protecting her privacy; she once refused a visit from President Theodore Roosevelt. She also appeased her money-hungry nephew by presenting him with a check on a silver platter at her front door. He never set one foot inside the house.
Whether for the Winchester lore or for its architectural feat, the Winchester House is filled with oddities, stories, and charm and is well worth a visit. You can purchase tickets on our website here.
To see a complete listing of tours about hauntings and ghosts, click here.