Winchester Mystery House – Victorian mansion owned by the widow of gun magnate allegedly haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles

The Winchester Mystery House is a home in San Jose, California that was originally owned by Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun tycoon William Wirt Winchester. The Queen Anne Style Victorian home, located at 525 South Winchester Blvd. in San Jose, is famous for its size, architectural oddities, and absence of a master building plan. It is a historical monument in California and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a tourist attraction that is privately owned.The grounds and house have been alleged by many, including Winchester herself, to be haunted by the ghosts of victims murdered by Winchester rifles since construction began in 1884. Under Winchester’s daily supervision, its “from-the-ground-up” construction continued around the clock, according to some reports, without interruption, until her death on September 5, 1922, when work was promptly halted. According to Sarah Winchester’s biographer, Winchester “routinely discharged laborers for months at a time ‘to take such leisure as I may,’” which “flies in the face of statements by today’s Mystery House proprietors that work at the ranch was unceasing for thirty-eight years.”Sarah Winchester received more than $20.5 million after her husband died of TB in 1881. She also gained about fifty percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which provided her with an income of over $1,000 per day, or approximately $23,000 per day in 2013. These inheritances provided her with a large sum of money, which she utilized to pay the ongoing building.According to tabloids of the time, a Boston psychic advised her, while allegedly channeling her late husband, that she should leave her house in New Haven and move West, where she would have to constantly build a home for herself and the spirits of individuals killed by Winchester rifles. Winchester departed New Haven for California. Though it is possible she was simply looking for a change of scenery and a hobby during her long depression, other sources claim Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted by ghosts and that the only way to appease these spirits was to move West and build them a house continuouslya continuous basis.

The home was seven storeys tall before the 1906 earthquake, but it is now just four stories. Mrs. Winchester like the wood, but she loathed the sight of it, so the home is mostly composed of it. As a result, she asked that a false grain and stain be added. This is why nearly all of the wood in the house has been covered. The house required around 20,500 US gallons (78,000 l) of paint. The house was constructed on a floating foundation, which is said to have protected it from catastrophic collapse both the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Because the house is not totally linked to its brick foundation, it can shift freely. There are around 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, two ballrooms (one full and one unfinished), 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys (with indications of two more), two basements, and three elevators. Winchester’s estate was formerly around 162 acres (66 hectares), but it has since been reduced to 4.5 acres (1.8 ha) – the minimum required to include the house and neighboring structures. There are gold and silver chandeliers, hand-inlaid parquet flooring and trim, and a wide range of colors and materials.

Mrs. Winchester’s crippling arthritis necessitated the installation of special “easy riser” stairways in place of her original steep structure. Because she could only elevate her feet a few inches, she was able to roam around her house easily. For Winchester, there was just one operational toilet; all other bathrooms were decoys to fool ghosts. This is also why she slept in a different room every night.

The home’s comforts were uncommon at the time it was built. Steam and forced-air heating, contemporary indoor toilets and plumbing, push-button gas lighting, and Mrs. Winchester’s personal (and only) hot shower from indoor plumbing were among these features. There are three elevators as well, one of which is propelled by a unique horizontal hydraulic elevator piston. (Most elevator pistons are vertical to conserve space, but Winchester chose the horizontal form for enhanced functionality.) Mrs. Winchester never skimped on the various adornments she thought added to the building’s architectural splendor.

The Tiffany Company designed several of the stained glass windows. Some were created expressly for her, while others were created by her, such as a “spider web” window with her favorite web design and the repeating of the number thirteen, another of her obsessions. This window was never erected, but it still remains in the “$25,000 storage room,” so named because its contents were initially evaluated at $25,000.When Winchester died, she left everything she owned (save the home) to her niece and personal secretary. Her niece then grabbed anything she desired and auctioned off the remainder in a private auction. According to Winchester’s biographer, it took six trucks working eight hours a day for six weeks to remove all of the furnishings from the house. Mrs. Winchester made no mention of the mansion in her will, and appraisers deemed it worthless owing to seismic damage, an incomplete design, and the impracticality of its construction.It was auctioned off to a local investor for more than $135,000 and then leased for ten years to John and Mayme Brown, who later bought the house. The mansion was opened to the public in February 1923, five months after Winchester’s death, with Mayme Brown serving as the first tour guide. At 1924, Harry Houdini toured the home, and the newspaper story of his visit (displayed in the estate’s gun museum) dubbed it the Mystery House.Winchester Investments LLC, a privately held business representing the descendants of John and Mayme Brown, now owns the house. Mrs. Winchester’s beliefs and stated obsession with warding off harmful spirits are reflected in the home’s particular embellishments. These ghosts are claimed to have directly influenced her in the design of the mansion. The number thirteen and spider web patterns, which she associated with spiritual meaning, can be seen throughout the house.

For example, a costly imported chandelier with 12 candleholders was modified to hold 13 candles, wall clothes hangers are in multiples of 13, and a spider web-patterned stained glass window has 13 colorful stones. The drain covers for the sinks have 13 holes as well. The present groundskeepers of the home have sculpted a topiary tree styled like the number 13. In addition, every Friday the 13th at 1300 hours (1 p.m.), the huge bell on the grounds is rung 13 times in honor of Winchester.

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