Winchester House

Rather than Sam and Dean, I’m talking about the mansion in Northern California that once belonged to Sarah Winchester. She was the widow of William W. Winchester who was responsible for the gun which bears his name. She is famous for building a house in which people can and do get lost.

Sources differ on the reason for building the house. Some say that it was a hobby that Sarah immersed herself in to recover from the death of her husband and baby daughter. Others state that Sarah visited a medium who told her that she was haunted by the ghosts of all those who were killed by Winchester rifles. Sarah was told that she must go West and begin building a house and if she wished to escape the curse, keep building until the day she died.

Construction began in 1884 and did not stop until Sarah’s death on September 5 1922. The cost of building is estimated to have been around 5.5 million dollars, which equates to about 75 million in modern money.

The main reason why this house has become so famous is due to its lack of a master building plan. The house is full of doors that lead nowhere, stairs that rise into ceilings and other oddities. Some say this is due to the lack of a plan, but others claim that Sarah believed she could trick the ghosts. Instead of finding her they would spend their time drifting from room to room, as lost as any human person might be. It is also said that Sarah conducted nightly seances in order to determine how the building of the house should proceed. This implies that Sarah was perhaps attempting to appease the ghosts on some level while going to some trouble to actively avoid any that might take up residence. This theory is further substantiated by the fact that there were only three mirrors in the entire house; Sarah believed that ghosts were frightened by their own reflection. Perhaps then Sarah wished to remain on good terms with friendly ghosts and appease the wrongs done to them by her husband’s rifle, while confusing and escaping from the malevolent spirits she also believed to be present.

The house was once seven stories high, but damaged during an earthquake in 1906 and currently stands at four stories. Spider web motifs and the number thirteen, both of which Sarah is said to have been preoccupied by are common throughout the house. There are also secret passages that were once used by Sarah to travel through the numerous hallways.

To this day tour guides warn people not to wander away as there is a real chance they could become lost for hours within the house.

If you wish to learn more then there is a wonderful site here. Be aware that it has sound (in case you’re a night owl like me).

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