At first glance, the so-called Winchester Mystery House looks like any other mansion. Sure it has more than 160 rooms, 40 bedrooms, two basements, and 10,000 windows. But people are so used to reading and watching the lives of the rich and famous that a grand mansion like the Winchester House is hardly surprising anymore. But its grandiosity is not what makes the Winchester House special. It’s called a mystery house for a reason. The house is filled with estranged features worthy of a movie or at least an episode of Twilight Zone. It has plenty of secrets that can get any mystery or horror fan thrilled. Indeed, a film based on the house was produced and shown in 2018. It is about the house and the supposed spirits that lived there.
What’s so mysterious about the mystery house?
The Winchester Mystery House has a total of 2,000 doors. But the mysterious part is that not all doors lead to a room. There’s one door that can lead an unsuspecting individual to an 8-foot fall into a kitchen sink. There’s another door that leads to the garden, and the only problem is it’s located 15 feet above the ground. Some of the most beautiful features of the mansion are the expensive Tiffany stained-glass windows. But it’s hard to appreciate them because they are placed in locations where they don’t get any light. Some staircases lead directly to ceilings. Then there’s a cabinet reminiscent of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It’s a cabinet that leads to 30 rooms in the house.
Never-ending renovations and changes
The Winchester Mystery House is named after a woman named Sarah Winchester. Originally a small eight-room farmhouse located in San Jose, California, the property was bought by Winchester in 1886 to start a new life. She immediately started to renovate the house, an endeavor that would last for 36 years and would cost her $5.5 million in today’s money. The renovation only stopped when Winchester passed away in 1922. Another mystery surrounding the house is the motivation behind Winchester’s neverending renovations and changes. And of course, what led her to build such a strange mansion with its many secret features.
The stories behind the mystery
Many stories have circulated about the Winchester Mystery House. According to one account, Winchester is just following the advice of a psychic whom she consulted after being haunted by ghosts. The ghosts are said to be of people who were killed by the Winchester rifle, an invention of her late husband. The psychic’s advice was for her to move west, buy a house, and never to stop building. Some say that Winchester believed that if she stopped building, she would die. Another story says that the house is built like a maze to confuse the ghosts that are haunting Winchester. It is even rumored that she sleeps in a different bedroom every night and walks on different paths inside her house so the ghosts won’t catch her.
Damaged by earthquake
In 1906, an earthquake damaged parts of the house. Winchester interpreted the event as a message from the ghosts that she was close to completing the house. To this day, the damaged part of the house is still visible.
In the 1990s, a parapsychologist and psychic investigator by the name of Christopher Chacon conducted a scientific investigation of the property at the request of the mansion’s management. Chacon’s investigation lasted for about a month and involved interviewing more than 300 individuals who have had a strange experience in the property. He also analyzed all aspects of the mansion’s surroundings to check for strange events and happenings. It wasn’t clear what Chacon’s conclusion was.
Up to this day, the mansion retains its reputation for being a mystery house. You can see and experience the mansion for yourself because it is open to the public. You can take a free garden tour, or you can explore the interior of the mansion for $20 to $39. For a more exciting experience, you can take the flashlight tour, which happens at night every Friday the 13th. Also located in the property are the Winchester Antiques Products Museum and the Winchester Firearms Museum.
Address: 525 South Winchester Boulevard
San Jose, California, 95128