One of America’s most iconic homes is The Winchester Mystery House. Inside lies a fascinating history of the eccentric Sarah Winchester who created it as well as a ghost story or two.

The Winchester Mystery House has been an enduring American legend since its construction over a century ago. Located in San Jose, California, the 160-room mansion was created by eccentric heiress Sarah Winchester who believed it would protect her from vengeful spirits. 

Or so the rumors say at least, but is it really true? Uncover the secrets behind its haunted corridors and spooky stories as you explore this iconic landmark.

Who Was Sarah Winchester?

Sarah Winchester was born into a prominent and wealthy family in New England. She married into an even wealthier one that made their money from the gun business. It was said that at the time, she was considered to be one of the wealthiest women in the world.

One of America's most iconic homes is The Winchester Mystery House. Inside lies a fascinating history of the eccentric Sarah Winchester who created it as well as a ghost story or two.
Sarah Winchester: A rich widow that spent most of her inheritance on building her strange house that has puzzled everyone since she started building it.

She spent her fortune to build the sprawling Victorian mansion to house her vast fortune and to ward off spirits she believed were angry at her due to her family’s gun-making business. This belief that her family was cursed and haunted by those who were killed by the Winchester rifle started even in her lifetime.

Throughout construction of The Winchester Mystery House, Winchester gradually added new wings, staircases that lead to nowhere, doors, and other features that made the home increasingly complex and filled with mysteries until her death in 1922.

The Construction of The Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is today world known for its quirky features and haunted reputation, even before Sarah Winchester passed away herself. In 1895 she started to appear in the newspaper where the writers and the other locals speculated as to why this rich widow kept building the house for no apparent reason.

The Winchester Mystery House was built in an almost continuous 24-hour a day state of construction over 38 years. Sarah Winchester hired carpenters, plumbers and other craftsmen to work on the massive project day and night. 

She also employed physicians to keep her healthy during the arduous task of designing and building her fantastic home as her health was rapidly declining over the years as well. Because of this she had to take several breaks from the construction because she tired so easily.

In fact, according to legend, one room was built around Sarah while she slept so that she wouldn’t have time off from the project. Her workers named it the “Martini Room” due to her nonstop working style.

Unique Features in the Winchester House

The Winchester Mystery House contains many unique features, including staircases to nowhere, secret passages and hidden doors. This maze-like way of building her house led people to speculate that she did so to confuse the spirits that haunted her and her family and prevent them from hurting them. 

There are also odd windows, strange symbols on the floor and doors that open up into walls that people have speculated about ever since. In addition to these weird features, Sarah Winchester installed beautiful gardens within the property and added stained glass throughout the home. She even used her wealth to construct a lavish conservatory in The Winchester Mystery House with exotic plants from around the world.

If not to confuse the ghosts, why did she build such a peculiar house? A student writing his master’s thesis on it came to the conclusion that her goal was to keep workers employed and to express her artistic vision although it was ever changing.

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After an earthquake in 1906, the house was severely damaged, and it never really got completely fixed. It was also at that time she stopped working on the house all together by 1910 except from maintenance. When she died in 1922 the house had 160 rooms, 2000 doors, 10 000 windows, 47 stairways and 47 fireplaces.

Just months after her death, her house became a tourist attraction and attracted everyone from paranormal investigators to the likes of Harry Houdini. And then over the years the ghost stories continued and grew.

Ghost Sightings and Supernatural Encounters

It’s not just the architecture of The Winchester Mystery House that has caught the attention of visitors; reports on supernatural encounters also abound. For example, Sarah Winchester’s spirit is said to still haunt reportedly haunt the house, along with other spectral apparitions and spirits of former employees. 

Still to this day the popular belief is that she thought she was haunted by those who died from the Winchester guns, and the guilt she felt from it and the money she got from it kept her as well as her home haunted. 

One of the most popular ghosts in The Winchester Mystery House is a mustached man named Clyde. He can be seen pushing a wheelbarrow down in the basement or trying to fix stuff around the house. Guests have sometimes commented about how they liked the actor in the white overalls and Victorian boater hat. When the staff replies that they haven’t hired an actor they figured that the worker Clyde has been at it again. 

Shadowy figures have also been spotted in corridors and doors have opened and closed without a discernible cause. Some visitors describe feeling an eerie presence when they explore this historic landmark that never seems to be completely at rest.

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