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May 23, 2024 6:28am
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Walk among Spirits at the Winchester Mystery House

Quality construction began in 1884

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The weird, the paranormal, the spine-chilling, and the downright curious. Few places, if any, have this combination of qualities like the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Construction on the mansion began in 1884,halting only at the time of Mrs. Sarah L. Winchester’s death in 1922. In those 38 years, a baffling and eccentric maze of Victorian craftsmanship, unmatchable anywhere else in the world, rose into being from an 8-room farmhouse.

The story behind the Winchester Mystery House will make the goose bumps rise just as much as the walk through its twisting hallways peppered with secret passageways. After losing her only child in infancy, and later, her husband, Mrs. Winchester began what would become a lifelong task of appeasing the spirits.

Her husband’s wealth had sprung from the success of the Winchester rifle, and Mrs. Winchester believed the spirits of those killed by the rifle had cursed her family. Following the advice of a psychic, she was doomed to the task of making her home larger and larger, forever accommodating both good and evil ghosts of those who had passed. This explains the Winchester Mystery House’s two nicknames, “The House Built by the Spirits,” and “The Spirit House.”

Mrs. Winchester is said to have conducted nightly séances to plan the next day’s building. The resulting details, spurred on by an ample bank account, include upside-down columns, sealed rooms, stairs leading up to ceilings, door opening onto walls, and the equivalent of 160 rooms, many full of rare Victorian-era furniture, 10,000 window panes, 2,000 doors, and 47 fireplaces. It’s no surprise that creaking floorboards and rattling doorknobs from alleged hauntings have often been witnessed here.

While the house itself is creepy to say the least, its mistress certainly added to that aura. A firm believer in the occult, Mrs. Winchester was known to appear out of nowhere during construction, and superstition has it that she could walk through doors and walls. Other eccentricities include inviting guests to the house, then arranging conflicts to prevent the gathering from happening, and undoing and redoing construction details countless times over. At one point, there were said to be 600 rooms in the house, but many of these were sealed over.

In spite of is dark lore, something undeniably beautiful emerges though the mansion’s construction labyrinth, whether it’s from the gold and silver plated chandeliers, rare, precious wood, and Tiffany windows or the personification of madness that can only come from a broken heart. One thing’s for certain, you will never see a place like this anywhere else. Just don’t lose your way during the tour – guests who’ve stumbled down the wrong corridor have reportedly become lost for hours!

Visitors to the 24,000-square-foot spectacle are invited to take a Mansion Tour, Behind-the-Scenes Tour, or deluxe Grand Estate Tour before walking at their own pace through the surrounding grounds full of botanical gardens, statues, fountains, outbuildings, and additional museums. Prices range from $22 to $33, depending on the tour and age of the guest. The Winchester Mystery House is open 7 days a week. Check the current schedule for a listing of hours.



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