Haunted Locations: Winchester house

Welcome back to Weird Wednesday! Tonight, we get back into our haunted locations for all of you ghost hunting phenoms out there. Those dark denizens of the disturbed, explorers of the extremely eerie, fans of the frightful, etc., etc.!  Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

Winchester House. One of the most famous haunted houses in the United States, everyone has heard of this house or at least the name.  Winchester, famous makers of guns and rifles?  No?  How about Sam and Dean Winchester, those hot boys from the even hotter show, Supernatural? No? Well, you should read a book then, or watch Netflix, or just keep reading.

The Winchester House was built by Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, widow of William Winchester, of the Winchester Repeating Arms company. Ms. Winchester became a widow at an early age, and was childless, having lost her only child due to illness at a young age.  After so much sorrow entered her life, Sarah moved out west for a fresh start. She settled in San Jose, CA and bought an 8-room farmhouse and began renovations. Renovations that would last from 1886 until her death in 1922.

Why so long for renovations? Why indeed. But let’s take a look at the house itself. According to the Winchester Mystery House website, the building is quite impressive. Carrying a hefty price tag of $5 million dollars to build, which translates to $71 million dollars today, the home ultimately boasted 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 160 rooms, 52 skylights, 47 stairways and fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms and 6 kitchens. I cannot imagine living in anything this size without a map!  It probably needed 6 kitchens to keep you fed as you traversed from one side of the home to the other, just to see your guests!

There are many rumors surrounding the building of the home, the constant renovating, tearing down and re-building of various rooms and additions. The most famous story states that Sarah seeking the advice of psychic mediums that recommended that she build a home to house the many ghosts of the victims of the weapons that her husbands company built. Those weapons that were built by the thousands that would be used to gun down so many young men and boys.  

Sarah took the advice to heart and began building rooms to appease these spirits.  Workers often reported her having daily seances with her medium to contact the various spirits to discuss what type of room they wanted, what room would bring them rest and peace.  As each room was completed, another room was built, as more and more spirits were contacted.

The home was so large that rooms were still being discovered decades later. As recently as 2016, a hidden attic was discovered that held a pump organ, a Victorian era couch, several paintings, and a dress form, along with a sewing machine. There were rumors of another storage room that was filled with more belongings, including a Tiffany window that was designed by Sarah.  When Sarah passed away in 1922, the house was put up for auction and sold to a John and Mayme Brown, who opened the grounds as “Winchester Park” for families to picnic on and the house was opened for public tours.

A visit from Houdini in 1924 was to help debunk the paranormal stories that surrounded the estate, but he reportedly left with more questions than he had found answers. He called it “The Mystery House” and the name stuck. By the 1930’s the home was being promoted as the “Winchester Mystery House.”

The “Winchester” movie was filmed in the actual house in 2017 and was based on these rumors that I have outlined here. Much of what you see you in the movie takes place in the actual house.

Today, the house is open to the public and there is website to help you buy tickets and plan your stay, if you so choose.  Just visit www.winchestermysteryhouse.com and you’ll be in the right place.  As always, stick to the rules, the 3R’s: Respect the property, respect the owners, respect the spirits.  You are only a guest in their home.

Please visit the website below to learn more about the Winchester house.

History – Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House: The True Story Behind The San Jose Mansion (allthatsinteresting.com)

Aerial view- credit to https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/mystery-house/
Front view-credit to https://www.portablepress.com/blog/2016/10/plenty-of-room-at-the-winchester-mystery-house/

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