Real Haunted Houses: Winchester Mystery House

Considering I just watched a movie about the Winchester Mystery House, aptly named Winchester, I decided I had no choice but to write about this house this week. I’ve been avoiding the Winchester Mystery House for a while because it’s just so well-known, and I’d like to focus on less well-known ghost stories for my haunted mansions series. Either way, time to dive inot the history of the Winchester Mystery House.

The History

Located at 525 South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose, California, the Winchester Mystery House is gigantic by all standards, at one time, it was supposedly even bigger. Construction of the house began in 1884. The property owner was Sarah Winchester, the wealthy widow of William Wirt Winchester, the owner of Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Upon yhis death, Sarah inherited more than $20 million and a share in his company, which also gave her a large daily income.

Sarah poured most of her income into constructing the house. This was, based on tabloids of the time, because a medium supposedly told her, after the death of her daughter and husband, that she should travel to the West and build a home there but not just for herself. No, she also had to build a home for all the spirits of people shot by Winchester rifles.

True or gossip, Sarah did purchase an unfinished farmhouse in 1884 and began her thirty-plus-years building saga, without any reason or logic. The building didn’t really have a plan, she rather added to the house in a more haphazard fashion. The house was at one point seven stories high, but after an earthquake in 1906, Sarah kept it at four stories, never rebuilding the upper tree – which could explain some of the house’s oddities, such as that some stairs went nowhere.

Rumors had it that Sarah Winchester slept in another room every night to trick the spirits from chasing after her. However, with 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, and a total of about 161 rooms, chances were she might just want a change of scenery.

Sarah Winchester passed away in 1922.

Visits and Tours

After Sarah Winchester’s death, the house was sold to John and Mayme Brown, who promptly opened it up for tours. This was when the claims of hauntings really started, which casts some suspicion on whether the hauntings already happened while Sarah Winchester was still alive, or if they were used as a ploy to get more guests for the tours. Either way, whether Sarah Winchester was an eccentric woman who loved architecture and had more than enough money to spend building the home of her dreams, or whether she was actually haunted, the house is still worth visiting. If not for its many secret rooms, also for its architecture.

Even as late as in 2016, another room was found in the house – an attic space with an organ, couch, sewing machine and paintings. So the house is, as it names suggests, still a “Mystery House”.

Now, the Winchester Mystery House has a new tour, the first new tour in over twenty years, called the “Explore More Tour”. More information about tours and the house can be found on the official website.

The Hauntings

The new movie, “Winchester”, which released this year about the Winchester Mystery House claims a great deal. It claims the house is haunted by the spirits of everyone who was killed with a Winchester rifle, because Sarah’s late husband owned the Winchester company. While someone who was shot to death would, rather than haunt the person who shot them, haunt the person who made the gun that eventually killed them, is more than a little odd – it’s a good story, and it makes for a fun movie plot, but it’s probably not true.

Visitors to the mansion often claim to feel Sarah’s energy. A good, positive energy. There’s also mention of the ‘wheelbarrow ghost”, a ghost pushing a wheelbarrow. Perhaps one of the servants, who was looking out ofr the place, even in the afterlife. Visitors also often feel energy on the third-floor hallways, which is where the servants lived.

While these ghosts may be present, the thought that every spirit of everyone ever killed with this type of rifle would be haunting the place, is too over the top to be true.

If you want to find out if the house is haunted or not, check it out for yourself. It’s definitely worth visiting either way.


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