In the annals of bizarre American history, there is a house so mysteriously built that, despite the ghost stories, it remains quite a resort to this day. Located in the heart of San Jose, California, Winchester Mystery House has been the subject of intense fascination since its construction in 1884. And for good reason: the house is a literal maze, with stairs leading to nowhere, cobweb-like windows. , and hidden messages intended to ward off spirits through its many intrinsic rooms.
The new horror film Winchester is a fantastic interpretation of the history of the house, with Helen Mirren as the famous and unconventional Sarah Winchester. With Winchester, Hollywood returns to the world of ghostly apparitions and scares, although the truth can be scarier than fiction. Whispers that seem to come from the walls, stairs that lead to nowhere, doors that open by themselves, and dark shadows that run through the rooms.
What started as a farm continued to be built 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 38 years by a mysterious widow named Sarah Winchester who, after her husband’s death, inherited a fortune from a firearms company. valued at more than $ 20 million (equivalent to more than $ 500 million in 2017).
The Winchester Mystery House: A Whole Monument To The Dead
Born Sarah Lockwood Pardee in 1840, she married William Wirt Winchester. Four years after their marriage in 1862, they had a daughter, Annie Pardee Winchester, who died just six weeks after she was born from marasmus, an extreme protein deficiency. It usually occurs due to poverty, but can sometimes be caused by viral or bacterial infections, or chronic diarrhea.
The marriage never had another child, but tragedy continued for Mrs. Winchester. Her husband William died of tuberculosis in March 1881, after working with his wife to build their grand home in New Haven, Connecticut. When William died, Mrs. Winchester, at the age of 41, inherited half the fortune of the company her father founded, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Suddenly, she was one of the richest women in America, having acquired $ 20 million, the equivalent of more than $ 500 million today.
Mrs. Winchester moved west, where she eventually settled in San Jose, California, then a small area known for its farmland. she bought a farm and immediately began work on its expansion. Then, all kinds of rumors started to surface. Her tireless efforts to make the mansion bigger and more luxurious attracted the attention of relatives and neighbors alike. Her silence and seclusion only served to fuel the rumors.
The mansion is said to have been built 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 38 years. One legend has it that a Boston psychic named Adam Coons told her that if she ever stopped building the house, she would die like her husband and daughter. In the end, the eight-bedroom farmhouse was turned into a 160-room mansion, with 13 bathrooms, round towers, and painted bright yellow and red. But the most surprising thing is that instead of destroying the remains of the old farm, they were simply used as decoration in the new mansion.
Hidden inside Winchester Mansion is an old bell and a gigantic water tower, which was once part of the farm. During the 38 years that the house was under construction, it cost approximately $ 5 million (about $ 73 million today).
Mrs. Winchester lived there for most of her life, and for 15 years she was accompanied by her favorite niece, who kept her company and prevented the scammers from trying to trick the elderly widow into not taking over her vast fortune. As the years passed, the construction became increasingly strange. There is still a staircase leading to nowhere, doors that open onto the walls, and unfinished rooms. It eventually became so complex that the mansion staff needed a map just to be able to do their daily tasks.
However, in 1906 tragedy returned to Mrs. Winchester’s life. This time, an earthquake ripped through northern California, with a magnitude of 7.8. It caused fires in the vicinity of San Francisco, where approximately 3,000 people died. The Winchester home, about 50 miles away, experienced the effects of the earthquake. More than a century later, many rooms remain without having been rebuilt. According to rumors, Mrs. Winchester was trapped in one of the many rooms and the mansion staff had to pry the door open with a crowbar to rescue her.
Sarah Winchester died in her sleep at home on September 5, 1922, of cardiac arrest. There was a small ceremony in Palo Alto, California, and she was buried alongside her husband and daughter at Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.
Is Winchester Mystery House Really Haunted?
Strange phenomena have been reported at Winchester Manor for years. Dozens of psychics have visited the house and most agree that spirits roam the place. In addition to the ghost of Sarah Winchester, there have also been many other sightings over the years.
Since it was opened to the public, both workers and visitors have had unusual encounters. Steps that come from nowhere, knocks on doors, mysterious voices, windows that break on their own, cold spots, or strange lights that move. Sometimes visitors claim to have seen what is known as the “Phantom of the truck”, a spirit that appears in the mansion dressed in overalls, carrying a toolbox, and pushing a wheelbarrow.
Obviously, these are just some of the paranormal phenomena at Winchester Mansion… but are the stories just bedtime stories? Or could they be true? Is the mansion a monument to the dead? Do ghosts still inhabit the rooms of Winchester Mansion?
If you have the opportunity do not hesitate to visit Winchester Mystery House, and if you can not you can always see the film Winchester directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and played by the great Helen Mirren.