The haunting and strangely beautiful home of Sarah L. Winchester has left a permanent mark on my heart. Her story of strife, determination, and mystery is no less remarkable.
The heiress was well-educated, worldly, and happily married before creating her enigmatic and final home in San Jose, California. Sarah married William Winchester, heir of the Winchester rifle legacy, in 1862. They had a daughter shortly after, but Sarah was dealt two tragic hands after losing her only child and husband less than 20 years later.
The tragedies took a serious toll on Sarah Winchester, and she sought spiritual help. This help paved the way to the creation of the Winchester Mystery House. Sarah was informed by a medium that she was haunted by spirits of those slain by the Winchester rifle, and these spirits caused the deaths of her family. She was also told she was the next to go. With this news, Sarah was finally instructed to relocate from her home in Connecticut to the Western coast, in California. Sarah was left with advice that the spirits would not cease unless she built a home, and never stopped building.
The heiress inherited a very handsome sum from her family and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which allowed her a great start to her eerie project. She purchased a home in San Jose and immediately started to add onto it. She had a “Seance room” where she sought advice and guidance from spirits to help with the continuous construction of her home. Neighbors have reported oddities in and around the home since Sarah occupied the land.
Sarah passed away in her favorite room in 1922, and her legacy was preserved and deemed the Winchester Mystery House. No one knows why Sarah truly chose this life after the loss of her family, but she left an amazing story.
The Victorian mansion consists of both funny and odd architecture and is definitely a must-see for all walks of life. There is a door on the second story that can be seen from the front yard because it leads to nowhere, just a quick and sudden drop! The home contains 160 bedrooms, nearly 50 stairways and fireplaces, and thousands of doors and windows…to name some of it’s peculiar features. It stood at 7 stories until the 1906 earthquake, and left the mansion at only 4 stories. Sarah also incorporated the number 13 into many components of the home, such as the number of certain plants on the grounds and window panes throughout, adding to the superstitious aura.
“Was she obsessed by the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifle? Did she use the endless building and rebuilding as a way of distracting herself from her grief over the deaths of her loved ones? If the rumors of her strange behavior are not true, why did no one come forward to contradict them after her death?” Sarah Winchester, Woman of Mystery, http://winchestermysteryhouse.com
Named as the #1 World’s Most Haunted Place by Travel Channel, the Winchester Mystery House will never cease to attract my curiosity to it’s eerie and breath-taking existence. I hope the “house fear built” will leave as big a mark on you as it has me.