Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to the Winchester Mystery House,
A few weeks ago enroute from Southern Calfornia, we stopped in San Jose for a few days to visit family. An added bonus was getting to tour this magnificent mystery house: The Winchester Mansion. It's hard to believe I saw so many rooms in just over an hours time!
It was very interesting to say the least. This huge mansion has 160 rooms, of which I saw 110! If you want more of a behind the scenes tour, then can see all 160 of the rooms.. If you know something about the Winchester rifle, then you may be familiar with Sarah Winchester and the bizzare story surrounding her.
If you do choose to tour this mystery abode, enter at your own risk ! According to some guests, there have been spirt sightings and alleged hauntings. Some have also reported feeling the floor move, getting dizzy in certain rooms, and feeling nauseous. My daughter said she experienced a queezy tummy and felt like the room was spinning...strange, I guess the ghosts didn't like me. I never felt a thing!
In the mid 1800's Sarah married William Winchester , the son and heir to the Winchester rifle fortune. " The gun that won the west." Not long after, Mrs. Winchester suffered two devastating losses: her child and husband both died and she fell into a deep depression.
After her husband's death she sought advice from a spiritualist in Boston, close to her home. In this meeting she was told that her family and fortune were being haunted by spirits, and that these spirits were the cause of the death of her loved ones. The spiritualist advised that she could escape this horrible lot, by moving west and appease the spirts by building a great house for them to dwell.
She was also advised that as long as the construction of the house never stopped, then her life would not be in danger. Sarah decided she did need a change of scenery and packed up and moved to see her niece in the Santa Clara Valley.
The Buidling of the San Jose Mystery Mansion
In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farm house, 3 miles from San Jose. For the next 38 years she kept adding onto the sprawling estate, that we know today as the Winchester Mystery House. Mrs. Winchester hired carpenters to work day and night.
By the early 1900's the large estate had grown into a seven story mansion and 160 acres of farmland. Sarah had all kinds of orchards to help supplement her income. The construction of the house spread over six acres. In addition to the 160 rooms, the house has 2000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. I never travelled so many staircases in all my life. The way they wind all over the house in different directions, is extremely strange!
Beautiful and Bizzare
One of the staircases is called the "switchback staircase." It has seven flights and 44 steps. It only comes off the ground nine feet, and each step is only two inches high. Also, the stairwells are long and skinny, not a good mix when you are clostephobic like me!
You will certainly get your excercize touring this house. There are miles of hallways and many secret passages. Legend has it that Mrs. Winchester traversed her house in circles, to confuse the ghosts and spirits that were supposedly following her.
There are several trap doors and staircases leading out to windows that she could escape to when she so needed. In the middle of the house is a séance room. Every night she would conduct a séance to get inspiration for her building plans and protection from the bad spirits.
There are many more strange theories and stories about the house and Sarah Winchester, read it all here.
The SFO Quake and the Death of Sarah Winchester
The earthquake of 1906 in San Fransisco, dealt a serious blow to Mrs. Winchester's home. It suffered a lot of damage. The 7 story observation tower tumbled to the ground. After the quake was over, the servants had to use a crowbar to pry Sarah out of her favorite bedroom: The Daisy room in the front of the house.
In later years she suffered greatly from arthritis and a weak heart. Sarah passed away in September of 1922. She left large sums of cash and trust funds to her sister, nieces, and nephews. Also some was left to her favorite servants.
Her favored niece, Mrs. Marian Merriman, was heir to all her household goods and furnishings. Merriman quickly auctioned off everything. Supposedly it took six moving trucks working for 6 weeks, to get everything cleaned up and hauled away.
She left no directions in her will about the mansion itself and the farm. They eventually became part of the estate and were sold by her Trustees. Today the mansion is privately owned and is registered as a California Historical Landmark.
During the tour of the house, no inside photography was permitted. I am sharing my photos of the outside, which gives you an idea of the vastness of the estate. The outside gardens and buildings were all so beautiful to look at.
I hope you enjoyed the tour and learned something new. There is so much more to learn about this mysterious house. Do you think you would ever visit a place like this?!? If you are into history at all, you will enjoy it. I absolutely loved the tour and hope to do the behind the scenes option next time
Along with a guided tour, there are several activities and events you can participate in throughout the year. There is even a spooky night tour using flashlights, I think I will pass on that one! The gardens and landscaping are something to behold as well. Everything is so beautiful and ornate.
Enjoy the summer weather, and thanks for stopping by! If you don't want to miss my weekly posts, you can subscribe to the right on the sidebar.