Haunted Winchester Mystery House

by Walter Bissell

The construction of this unusual mansion located at 525 South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose California began in 1884 under the watchful eye of Sarah L. Winchester, the widow of William W. Winchester (manufacturer of the winchester rifle).

Winchester Mystery HouseSeeking guidance after his death, Sarah consulted a medium (known only as the “Boston Medium”) who told her of her late husband’s wishes that she move westward to a location he would show her and build a home. The medium also informed Sarah that William had said, “There is a curse that has resulted from the terrible weapon created by the Winchester family. A curse that took my life and the life of our child. It will take your life too. You must build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon too. You can never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live. Stop and you will die.”

Dead End StairsOdd Construction
So construction continued 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, until Sarah’s death 38 years later on Sept. 5, 1922. There was never a master plan. Sarah would consult the spirits at night and instruct the workers the next day. An estimated 160 rooms existed in this seven story mansion. The actual total is not known as rooms were built inside of rooms and some of the upper floors collapsed during the 1906 earthquake and were not restored. Rooms were added to rooms and then entire wings were built. Roof peaks were added to roof peaks, skylights located on top of skylights and towers erected at various spots. There were countless staircases inside which led no-where; a blind chimney that stops short of the ceiling; trap doors; double-back hallways; closets that opened to blank walls; doors were joined to windows and others opened to drop offs to the lawn below; all of the stair posts were installed upside-down; many of the bathrooms had glass doors and there were other odd features as well.

The Number 13
It is obvious that the number "13" was used often in the construction. Nearly all of the walls had 13 panels; many of the wooden floors contained 13 sections; some of the rooms had 13 windows, each containing 13 panes of glass and every staircase but one had 13 steps. The exception is a winding staircase with 42 steps, enough to take one up three stories. In this case, however, the steps only rise nine feet because each step is only two inches high. The greenhouse also had 13 cupolas. The house had over 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms and 47 fireplaces. Three elevators were installed to get to the upper levels.

Haunted Winchester Mystery HouseIs the House Haunted?
In the years that the house has been open to the public, employees, visitors and psychics share clams of unusual phenomena reported here. There have been banging doors; mysterious voices and whisperings; footsteps; windows that bang so hard they shatter; lights going on and off, strange moving lights and red balls of light that fade and explode; doorknobs that turn by themselves; security alarms being set off from within the house; a couple lingering in the corner of a bedroom; cold spots in Sarah's bedroom as well as apparitions of Sarah. The sound of music has been reported coming from the “Blue Room” where Sarah died. Perhaps one of the oddest reports is the smell of chicken soup coming from a long-unused kitchen.

Psychic Jeanne Borgen visited in 1975 and reportedly took on Sarah Winchester's appearance for a short time. Authors Richard Winer and Nancy Osborn spent the night there in 1979 while researching a book and were awakened by footsteps and piano music. Tours of the Winchester Mystery House can be obtained on-line. Besides the normal tours, Winchester Mystery House offers special flashlights tours every Friday the thirteenth and at Christmas.

Ghost Pictures Taken at the Winchester Mystery House:
Winchester Mystery House Ghost Pictures
Winchester Mystery House Ghost Photo
Winchester Mystery House Ghost Video

For More Information, Visit the:
Winchester Mystery House Official Website