One hundred-sixty rooms. Forty-seven fireplaces. Seventeen chimneys. Imported Tiffany art glass windows. Silver inlaid doors, rare precious wood parquet floors and a grand ballroom that cost nine times the amount of a typical house at the time.
Sounds like a dream home, right? While all of the above are noteworthy, none of them are what make the house I’m about to talk about today so fascinating. It’s all in the details . . . the creepy, ghostly details.
Let’s rewind to the year 1862, when a woman by the name of Sarah Lockwood Pardee married William Wirt Winchester – son of the manufacturer of the world-famous Winchester repeating rifle. The couple led a relatively happy life until 1866 when their infant daughter, Annie died of a mysterious childhood disease. Fifteen years later, William himself died of Tuberculosis, leaving Sarah Winchester alone, and depressed.
It is because of this depression that sources claim Sarah sought out a “spiritualist” who passed down a dire warning. Unfortunately, this warning shaped the remainder of poor Sarah’s life, leaving her tormented up until the very day she died. What kind of warning could be that life altering? One that blamed her husband’s family for the deaths of countless American Indians and Civil War Soldiers. The spiritualist informed Sarah that her family and fortune was being haunted . . . haunted by spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles.
Sarah immediately set about to build a new home. A home that would protect her from the spirits that she believed were coming for her. The Winchester Mystery House is the result of this paranoia. The house was under construction for the next 38 years – intentionally never reaching completion so that the spirits were kept “confused” and at bay. It boasts staircases that end at the ceiling, labyrinths of mazes behind the walls, windows that open in the floors and rooms where the number 13 is present in everything from the tiles to the window panes. There’s even a “door to nowhere” – one that opens to the outside of the home, and a startling fifteen foot drop onto cement below.
Sarah believed that as long as she continued building, she would survive the spirits. And so she spent the latter part of her life drafting up preposterous architectural plans – plans even the most ingenious construction crew could never fully bring to life.
I’ve always been fascinated with the Winchester House, and hope you guys find it as fantastically dark as I do. Had this mansion been inspired by some sort of Willy-Wonkaesque presence, I doubt I’d be as curious. But given that it stemmed from a deep rift in the psyche of what was once a perfectly happy and normal, woman – I’m captivated. And if looking at 6 acres of demented looking shutters, towers and Victorian era decor isn’t good horror writing fodder, I don’t know what is.
Should you want more information, or want to see a virtual tour of some of the rooms in it, here is a site: www.winchestermysteryhouse.com. Oh and guess what? They host Halloween events there. Yup, the house is open to the public.
Who’s up for a road trip??