To kick off our week coming up to Halloween, I thought we’d start with an interesting real life example of ghosts and paranoia in someone with enough money to do something about it. That someone is Sarah Winchester who was convinced that the ghosts of people murdered by Winchester rifles were out to get her. With an inheritance of over $20 million from the death of her husband from tuberculosis and an additional income of around $1,000 per day from the rifles, Sarah Winchester was a very rich woman. She moved from the East Coast to California and began construction on a massive home that was a strange maze of rooms with secret panels, passageways, stairways to nowhere and countless other odd bits of construction. The farmhouse she initially purchased became a sprawling seven storey mansion (four storeys since an earthquake in 1906).
The common consensus seems to be that the house was designed so strangely to try to confuse spirits. Curious behaviours such as tearing apart just remodeled rooms, sealing off entire sections, replacing floors several times, etc. are all thought to be part of keeping the ghosts confused and on their toes. How she ever managed to avoid getting lost is beyond me. For 38 years the house was worked on round the clock, which helps when you have no budget cap and no deadlines.
There also seems to be a bit of an obsession with the number 13 in the mansion. “Many windows have 13 panes and there are 13 bathrooms, with 13 windows in the 13th Bathroom. There are also 13 wall panels in the room prior to the 13th Bathroom, and 13 steps leading to that bathroom. The Carriage Entrance Hall floor is divided into 13 cement sections. There are even 13 hooks in the Séance Room, which supposedly held the different colored robes Mrs. Winchester wore while communing with the spirits…13 rails by the floor-level skylight in the South Conservatory, 13 steps on many of the stairways, 13 squares on each side of the Otis electric elevator, 13 glass cupolas on the Greenhouse, 13 holes in the sink drain covers, 13 ceiling panels in some of the rooms, and 13 gas jets on the Ballroom chandelier. Mrs. Winchester had the thirteenth one added.”
So if you’re in San Jose, California and are looking for an interesting way to spend your time you can check out the Winchester Mystery House on a two hour tour through the building and grounds. We may never know if there were ghosts haunting Sarah Winchester, but there was certainly something prompting this erratic and creative construction project.
Thanks for stopping by!