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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Winchester Mystery House - Perfect for Spooktober!

Have you ever heard of the Winchester House? This interesting (and creepy!) house is located in San Jose, California. Built by Sarah Winchester, construction on the house began in 1884 and continued around the clock (24/7) for 38 years. Construction finally stopped on the day she died – 5 Sep 1922. Famed magician Harry Houdini visited the house in 1924 and called it a 'mystery house.' Nowadays the structure is known as the Winchester Mystery House.

Many claimed the house was haunted. There are approximately 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 2 basements, and 3 elevators. At the time it was built it had forced air heating, flushing toilets, plumbing, and hot showers.

To understand the house one needs to know what fueled Sarah Winchester's motivations. She was born in 1840 in New Haven, Connecticut and had a privileged upbringing, learning to speak 4 languages. In 1862 she married William Winchester, the manufacturer of the Winchester repeating rifle. The couple was off to a happy start, but in 1866 their infant daughter, Annie, died to a mysterious illness. In 1881, William and depression. She visited a medium in Boston. The medium counseled Sarah saying her family and money were haunted by all those people killed by Winchester rifles and she was the next victim. However, if she traveled west and built a house for the spirits killed by the rifles, as long as the house was under construction, Sarah's life would not be in danger. Heeding the medium's advice, Sarah went west and in 1884 bought an unfinished farmhouse.
Things that go bump in the Night

Sarah had an interesting love/hate relationship with the spirits inhabiting the Winchester House.

She never slept in the same bedroom 2 nights in a row so as to confuse the evil spirits.

The house had an abundance of light sources so the spirits wouldn't feel conspicuous by shadows since they couldn't cast their own.

Only 2 mirrors were placed in the house though. Ms. Winchester believed the ghosts in the house were afraid of their own reflection.

Interestingly, Sarah Winchester never gave an interview or left a journal. There are hundreds of wild stories about her the house, the ghosts. Who's to say what's true?

Question: Has anyone ever visited the Winchester House? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy Spooktober!

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24 comments:

  1. Never been there but have read a lot about Winchester House. What a sad life that woman had, or maybe she was just a confused architect.

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    1. PL- I don't think she ever got over the depression that struck when she lost her child. I find it amazing how much weight she put into a pyschic's word.

      Thanks for stopping by
      Smiles
      Steph

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  2. I have heard of the Winchester House. Saw a documentary on it once. Fascinating story. You're rigt. Perfect setting for a spooky tale.

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    1. Joan, I'd love to visit. Maybe next year. I agree - it's a fascinating story.
      Smiles
      Steph

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  3. Just the name of the house conjures all kinds of imaginative stories. Poor woman....what a bunch of malarky about her being haunted by the spirits of people killed by the rifles. But I guess people believe can be made to beleive anything.

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    1. Mimi, I agree - some people will believe anything. If anything, Sarah's story and the Winchester House inspires the imagination.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  4. I've been there, though it was years ago. The thing I remember most about it were the architectural oddities of the building...staircases that don't go anywhere; doors in odd positions, so you have to step up or down to get to them; doors that opened onto blank walls; and the maze of corridors that went all over the place. Fascinating place!

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    1. Karen, thanks for sharing. I could imagine that would be very disconcerting. Were you able to take pictures? What was the landscaping like?

      Smiles
      Steph

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  5. What a great story, Steph. I've never heard of the Winchester Mystery House, but its given me lots to think about. Best of luck with Feast of Candles!

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    1. Maggie, I think Sarah's story could definately inspire a spooky Halloween tale!
      Smiles
      Steph

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  6. I visited it years ago and found it fascinating. One thing you didn't mention is that there were secret places where Sara Winchester could spy on her servants. Or so she thought. I think someone cleaned those places and all the servants, therefore, knew about them. It's a beautiful house, but I don't think it was ever a home.

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    1. Caroline, lol!! Sarah wasn't fooling anyone, was she?
      well...maybe the ghosts.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  7. Having lived in Modesto for nearly twenty years, that was one place I always wanted to go and never got to. My closest was a school fieldtrip for one of my daughters'- but it got canceled at the last minute for some reason. We often went to Sant Cruz, but only a couple of times to San Jose. And I've never heard the story, just the ghostly rumors. Thanks!

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    1. Calisa,
      I hope you have a chance to get back. I'd love to go myself - maybe next time we're in Northern California.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  8. I love the Winchester House. It is spooky - our Swedish exchange daughter wouldn't go on the tour because of the spooky feeling. My aunt lived near the place and we always got to take the tour. So, so interesting and amazing that Mrs. Winchester was so obsessed with keeping the building going to appease the ghosts.

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    1. Paisley, amazing isn't it? When you were there did you feel cool or chilly when you walked around. I've heard it said that a ghostly presence usually chills a room.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  9. Steph--I've heard about this house and the story about Mrs. Winchester, but I've never seen a photo. I'd love to go through it--I loved the Biltmore in N. Carolina and the Hearst Mansion in California..and so, I'd love to tour it. Someday...maybe. Good post, and good tie-in to Halloween.

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    1. That's me, Celia - I hope to get there one day. Now, I've been to the Heart Castle and I think it's gorgeous. I'd love to take Andrew. He'd really get a kick out of it. I think Joe is still too young to appreciate Heart.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  10. Fascinating history about Mrs. Winchester and what a house!
    Also, your cover art is beautiful, Steph!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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    1. Thanks Morgan. Sarah Winchester was definately a character and it's amazing how an educated woman of the time really embraced the supernatural message of the pyschic medium she visited.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  11. Very interesting place to get lost in a story. Might just need to dig up a ghost (tail)tale or 2! Love the cover, also. (grin)

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    1. Thanks Mary. I love a ghost story!
      Smiles
      Steph

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  12. Yes, there is definitely a feeling of being watched. Our Swedish daughter walked out after a few moments and wouldn't return. All the doors that open to walls, one door that opens to the outside with a two story drop, one room had seven (I think) fireplaces in it, a staircase that goes up to the ceiling. Yes, definitely a weird place. One bathroom is all glass and you can look down into it from above. I loved it and would go back in a heartbeat. But, then again, I am weird. :)

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    1. How fascinating. The bathroom sounds wild. Thanks so much for sharing!
      Smiles
      Steph

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