Do you believe in ghosts? If you do, and if you happened to have oodles upon oodles of disposable income (I’m talking millions of disposable income), would you build a sprawling dwelling to confuse and baffle the spirits that could be haunted your home?
Mrs. Sarah L. Winchester did just that. The heir of the Winchester gun fortune tried desperately to appease the ghosts she was convinced were out to get her by building a huge mansion in San Jose, CA a must-see destination now known as the Winchester Mystery House.
Intriguing, no? Yes, yes it is. If you’re unfamiliar with the house that crazy built, here are a few things you should know.
What ghosts were haunting Mrs. Winchester?
Mrs. Winchester was under the impression that the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her. While living in New Haven, she went to a medium who advised her to move out west and to appease all those pesky spirits by building a home for them (and her) giving the instructions that as long as construction of the house never ceased, she would be safe. The building continued every single day until the day she died.
How big is the Winchester Mystery House?
There are about 160 rooms which includes 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, a Séance Room, two basements and three elevators, plus there are 47 fireplaces and over 10,000 panes of glass. Also on the grounds there are lush gardens and various buildings. The home isn’t just big, it is opulent with European touches, polished wood, and stunning Tiffany stained-glass windows.
Wacky Winchester Touches
The whole mansion is like one glorious, elegant maze, hence why you can’t explore on your own; you need a guide to visit the building. There are stairways that lead to nowhere, a door that opens to a brick wall, and then there is the Switchback Staircase, “which has seven flights with forty four steps, rises only about nine feet, since each step is just two inches high,” (which also helped Mrs. Winchester arthritis).
The Number Thirteen
The number thirteen, as well as various spider web motifs, are found all over the estate. Both had a deep spiritual significance for her. A few of the places where you’ll find the number 13 represented include a pricey chandelier that once had 12 candle-holders which was altered to hold 13 candles, clothing hooks on the wall are in multiples of 13, and beautiful spider web-patterned stained glass windows contain 13 colored stones. Even the sink’s drain covers have 13 holes.
Take a Photo Wearing Green!
First off, we did not plan on this happening, it was just a happy, albeit spooky, accident. Before you go on the tour, they take a photo of you in front of a green screen. My daughter happened to be wearing a green dress that day and her body disappeared, a spooky touch for a spooky place.
You can see all the eerie grandeur of the Winchester Mystery House yourself. They host a variety of tours from the 2 1/2 hour Grand Estate Tour to the flashlight tour (which is given every Friday the 13th and on select evenings in October).
Photos: Winchester Mystery House