Described as one of the most haunted locations in America, the Winchester Mystery House attracts many visitors each year hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghosts who are supposedly haunting this enormous house.
While seeing a spirit isn’t certain, what is definitely guaranteed is that visitors will explore one of the most unusual places in the world with a chilling history that is sure to leave guests with an experience like no other.
This is an extremely odd location with very confusing architecture, to say the least, and we will get into these unusual areas further down in this list. This gigantic house has a lot going on with staircases leading nowhere, doors with walls behind them, confusing maze-like hallways, and ghosts who are said to be haunting this historic location. Listed below are just 10 of the many interesting (yet scary) facts about the Winchester Mystery House.
10. Who was Sarah Winchester?
Sarah Winchester was born in 1839 in Connecticut. She eventually married into the wealthy Winchester family, who were known for their ever-popular Winchester rifle.
After the death of her husband William, she inherited a huge fortune from her in-laws’ gun business. She then moved from New Haven, Connecticut to San Jose, California, which is where she bought a simple eight-room cottage on many acres of land. But the simple home would soon become unrecognizable as she had several carpenters who worked continuously on her home for 36 straight years.
Because of the many people who died as a result of being shot by the Winchester rifle, she believed her family was cursed. That was what ultimately led her to hire builders to work endlessly on her home.
9. The Great Earthquake of 1906
As legend has it, by 1906 the Winchester mansion had 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces, 2,000 doors, and a seven-story high observation tower. Unfortunately, the great San Francisco earthquake that year caused substantial damage to the house. Sarah Winchester was safe, but stuck in her Daisy Bedroom. Her staff had to dig her out of the room because the entrance was blocked by rubble.
The terrified Sarah was sure that the angry spirits had caused the earthquake because she was almost finished with the construction. Therefore, she tore down the top three damaged floors, had 30 unfinished rooms sealed up, and continued building outward until her passing in 1922.
8. It’s a Historical Landmark
The Winchester Mystery House was named California Registered Historical Landmark No. 868 in 1974. Tours are offered to the public and already over 12 million people have visited the famously eerie house. They also have special tours for Halloween and on Friday the 13th. In fact, the Friday the 13th tours offer a “flashlight tour” where guests will explore the house after dark. And for those who love Halloween, they offer a very popular “Halloween Candlelight Tour” where you will rely solely on the flickering light of your candle to guide you through the mansion.
Tour guides will take the public to see 110 of the 160 rooms, which cover a total area of six acres. Guests will see a window built into the floor, stairs leading to the ceiling, doors which have walls behind them, Sarah’s bedroom, her séance room, the Grand Ballroom, etc. The tours also include a visit to the Victorian Gardens and the Historic Firearms Museum, which showcase several vintage Winchester rifles.
7. The Story of Sarah Winchester was Made into a Hollywood Movie
In early February 2018, the movie Winchester was released in theaters. Th movie stars Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, who portrays Sarah Winchester in this supernatural thriller. The movie explains the life of Mrs. Winchester and her obsession with endless construction on her now-famous mansion.
It’s apparent that many people were interested in watching this movie. The movie opened to $9.3 million at the US box office, and has grossed more than $38 million to date worldwide. If you missed it in theaters, it’s currently available to stream on various platforms. While this (highly fictionalized) “biography” is the bizarre story of Mrs. Winchester’s life, it is also said to send shivers down your spine at certain parts of the movie.
6. The Never-Ending House Construction
To try and calm down the angry spirits she believed were haunting her, Sarah Winchester made sure that the construction on her house went on non-stop, 24/7, 365 days a year, for 36 straight years until her death in 1922. She believed that if the construction stopped on her house, she would die.
The construction happened around the clock in shifts of 16 carpenters who were paid three times higher than the going rate at the time. With strong advice from a medium, she believed the doors that opened to walls and the stairways that went to the ceiling would confuse the ghosts enough to leave her alone.
Each night she would go to her séance room and contact the spirits to find out the next day’s building instructions. She would meet with the foreman each morning to discuss her hand-sketched plans from the previous night.
5. It’s Said to be Extremely Haunted
Many visitors, employees, and tour guides have claimed to have experienced strange things at the Winchester House, such as catching strange images and orbs in pictures and videos.
One of the most terrifying locations in the house is the third floor, where people claim to have heard footsteps and disembodied voices. It served as the living quarters for the servants; however, only a portion of the floor is accessible during tours. And many tour guides completely avoid the third floor corridors after dark.
There is one ghost in particular that is often encountered, and that is a man wearing white overalls who is seen pushing a wheelbarrow to the coal chute in the basement. He is said, however, to be friendly and often tips his hat to people who encounter him.
Although there have been many claims of paranormal activity at the house, the energy is said to be positive and the ghosts are said to be friendly.
4. Séances Were Performed in the House
Sarah Winchester believed that the deaths of her husband and baby daughter were caused by angry spirits who were killed by the Winchester rifle and were seeking retribution. She also believed there was a curse on her family created by the thousands of victims who died from the gun. She spoke to a medium who informed her that she would continue to be tortured by the ghosts/victims of the rifle unless she built a house non-stop to either make the spirits happy, or perhaps to elude them.
After the move to her new home in San Jose, she held séances every night at midnight so that she could receive the next day’s building instructions from the ghosts. It is said that Mrs. Winchester was the only person who held a key to her “séance room,” which featured one entrance and three exits.
3. Doors, Corridors, and Strange Architecture
There are doors found throughout the house that, when you open them, you will find a solid wall behind them. There are also small doors that lead into larger rooms, along with large doors that go into smaller rooms. One of the most disturbing areas of the house is located on the second floor, where a door opens directly to a two-story drop going straight down. There are also miles of twisted hallways and maze-like corridors which sometimes lead to nothing but dead ends.
While the house has 47 chimneys, some of them have an overhead ceiling. In some parts of the house, there are skylights which are either covered by another skylight or a roof. The strangest skylight is the one which was built directly into the floor.
Another strange structure of the mansion are the upside-down pillars, which are located all around the home.
2. Odd Staircases and Rooms
There are many dead-end staircases located around the house which are said to have been built to confuse the ghosts who were haunting Sarah Winchester. Some stairwells lead to a door with a wall behind it, while others lead straight up to the ceiling. And what’s even more unusual is that the stair posts were installed upside down. Some cabinet doors also open up to nothing but a solid wall.
One of the most unusual staircases in the home is in the shape of the letter “Y.” This was built so that the servants could travel quickly to three different levels of the mansion. One set of the “Y” shaped stairs had only seven steps, while the other two each had 11, and they all led to different parts of the house.
Some of the bizarrely-built rooms had windows and balconies located inside, instead of outside. Other rooms were created to look like boxes inside of other boxes, with smaller rooms built inside bigger rooms.
1. The Number 13
There are several occurrences in the house that relate to the number 13. Many of the windows have 13 panes; several of the stairways have 13 steps; many of the ceilings have 13 panels; 13 lights in the chandelier; and there are 13 bathrooms. In the 13th bathroom, there are 13 stairs that lead up to it and there are 13 windows found inside of the washroom. And if that’s not odd enough, Sarah Winchester’s will was divided into 13 parts and signed 13 times.
The Carriage Entrance Hall is divided into 13 sections; there are 13 rails by the skylight, which is found on the floor in the South Conservatory; and there are 13 squares on each side of the elevator. In the séance room, there are 13 hooks for the 13 robes Sarah wore while contacting the spirits.