Halloween is my favourite annual holiday by a mile. Likely due to my fascination in all things creepy, Halloween and all its spookiness make me very happy, and throughout the Fall months, my interest in the paranormal becomes heightened, if you will.
And, because it’s the season of scariness, I’ve been reading my book, Ghost Files, by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. One of the locations they’re invited to investigate is the infamous Winchester mansion, otherwise known as the Winchester Mystery House, which has earned the title of one of the most haunted locations in the world.
Located in San Jose, California, the Winchester mansion was “once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester,” the house’s Wikipedia page explains. Today, the house operates as a tourist attraction due to its “size, its architectural curiosities, and its lack of any master building plan”, though it is now a “designated California historical landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” the page says.
Construction for the Winchester house began in 1884, and since it’s creation, it is believed that “the property and mansion were claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles”, the page states. What’s even weirder is that “under (Sarah) Winchester’s day-to-day guidance, its ‘from-the-ground-up’ construction proceeded around the clock, by some accounts, without interruption, until her death on September 5, 1922, at which time work immediately ceased.”
Sarah’s husband succumbed to Tuberculosis in 1881, leaving her over $20.5 million in inheritance. Further, she inherited almost 50 per cent ownership of the “Winchester Repeating Arms Company, giving her an income of roughly $1,000 per day, equivalent to $26,000 a day in 2018. These inheritances gave her a tremendous amount of wealth which she used to fund the ongoing construction” of her somewhat maze of a home.
The Winchester home contains “roughly 161 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms (one completed and one unfinished) as well as 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements and three elevators.”
As for why she continued to add to her home for so many years without any sort of plan?
“Tabloids from the time said that, at some point after her infant daughter died of an illness known as marasmus, a children’s disease in which the body wastes away, and her husband died of pulmonary tuberculosis, a Boston medium told her (while supposedly channeling her late husband) that she should leave her home in New Haven and travel West, where she must continuously build a home for herself and the spirits of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles … Though it is possible she was simply seeking a change of location and a hobby during her lengthy depression, other sources say that Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted by ghosts and that only by moving West and continuously building them a house could she appease these spirits,” says Wikipedia.
So, would you visit the Winchester mansion?