I’m sure you’ve heard all of the wild stories about this strange a kooky house. Sara Winchester, the widow of William Winchester, saw a psychic sometime after 1881 who told her that her husband succumbed to the vengeful spirits of those killed by Winchester firearms and, to protect herself, she had to buy a home and constantly add on to it to confuse the spirits so they would leave her alone.
I’d bet money that psychic had a brother in the construction business.
Sara Winchester did just as she was told. She bought a home in 1884 and, until her death in 1922, the home was expanded, altered, added on to, demoed, and then it all repeated again. Today, the home has 13 bathrooms, 160 rooms, 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 17 chimneys, stairways that end at the ceiling, doors that open to a 20 foot drop, and staircases with over fifty steps that rise only nine feet.
This was a place I’d wanted to see forever… madness in architecture… and, in 2008, I got my chance as I roadtripped across California and the American Southwest.
The Winchester Mystery House was everything I could have hoped for. Not only was it a befuddling structure, but it was beautiful as well. The landscaping was unique and fun, the house actually had some practical uses for a woman of advanced years (Sara Winchester’s arthritis was the reason she had the 50-some odd steps that only went up nine feet) and it was an unexpected history lesson as part of the house still retained damage from the 1911 San Francisco Earthquake, an event that freaked Mrs. Winchester out so badly that she demanded that the damaged section of the house be sealed off and never opened again.
This is a place I fully intend to return to in the future and, if you’ve never experienced the madness in house form for yourself, I highly recommend the trip.