The Sarah Winchester House dates as far back as the 19th Century. The Queen Anne-styled Victorian mansion located at the heart of San Jose in California has been open to the public, attracting tourists from all over the world since February 1923. This was after John and Mayme Brown purchased it.
Over the years, the mystery surrounding the Sarah Winchester’s House has become notoriously famous for strange happenings laced with scary tales, prompting visitors and researchers to make trips to California annually, to the magnificent edifice that has become a historical landmark.
Unsettling Facts About The Sarah Winchester House
1. Who Is Sarah Winchester and Why Did She Build The House?
Sarah Lockwood Winchester is remembered as an American heiress, the widow of William Wirt Winchester who was popular as a firearm tycoon. Following the death of her husband, she inherited his estate which included his 50 percent stake in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the sum of $20 million: the man passed in 1881 so the equivalent of that amount as of 2020 is over $530 million.
Being one of the richest women in the world at the time, she had all the resources she needed to erect the finest of mansions. This begs the question: why did she settle for building something creepy that still scares the shit out of people many decades later. Why would a lonely widow construct a seven-story magnificent mansion, with 161 rooms, 47 fireplaces, two basements, three elevators, and a mysterious interior that’s akin to a funhouse?
It was in 1884 that she purchased an unfinished farmhouse in Santa Clara Valley and started constructing the weird mansion. She went about it crazily, adding to the farmhouse haphazardly, creating windows overlooking other rooms and doors and stairs that lead to nowhere.
2. She Consulted The Dead Before She Commenced Building
The mansion was built to honor the spirits of the dead. Sarah Winchester lost her daughter Annie and her husband William respectively in 1866 and 1881. This left her lonely with a huge inheritance from her husband who happened to be the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
It is said that Sarah was in a dilemma on how best to judiciously utilize the massive wealth that she consulted the soul of her departed husband through a medium. Today, it is believed that the aftermath of that conversation from beyond was the construction of the building, erected to serve as a home for the souls of those who have fallen from the Winchester firearms so they do not haunt her. It has been claimed that this was why Sarah relocated from her home in New Haven, Connecticut.
3. Why Redwood Was Used for The Building
It is still unclear why Sarah Winchester insisted on the use of redwood for the construction of the house. Even, there are reports that the building consumed over 20,000 gallons of paint which were used to cover the wood. It has been speculated that it symbolizes the blood of those killed by the Winchester firearms.
4. Spirits Decided What The House Should Look Like
There are accounts that some of the men who worked in the construction of the house, recounted how Winchester had a daily consultation with mediums and spirits on what additions should be made. This is logical since it was a home being constructed for spirits. And, it explains the too many illogical additions in the building.
5. She Kept Building for 38 Years
As part of the divine instructions given to her before she began the home for the spirits, many believed she was instructed to continue building else she will die. Thus, work continued in the house until September 5, 1922, when Sarah Winchester died in her sleep of heart failure.
Meanwhile, it has been expressed in some quarters that Sarah was a loner after her husband and daughter’s passing. As such, the continuous building of the house until her death was her way of battling depression.
6. The Sarah Winchester House Was Left Out of Her Will
This is another fact that seems to agree with the sentiment surrounding the purpose of the building. By the time Sarah Winchester died in 1922, one would have expected her to bequeath all that she holds dear, including the building, to her niece Marion who served as her personal Secretary.
Indeed, she left Marion all she owned but omitted the building in her will.
7. She Was Obsessed With The Number 13
While most people have termed her ‘crazy’ with others concluding that she was either a Freemason or Rosicrucian for her strange ways, there hasn’t been a concrete explanation to the woman’s obsession with the number thirteen.
Her will was a thirteen-copy document signed thirteen times. Also, there were thirteen bathrooms in the building, thirteen paned-windows, thirteen step-stairways, and several other designs she constructed in that number.
8. Sarah Winchester House Has Inspired Many Horror Stories
Due to numerous tales of ghost hunting and mysterious happenings that bedevil the California mansion during and after Madam Winchester’s lifetime, some writers and movie producers have made horrific stories, citing the edifice as their inspiration.
For instance, the 1997 fantasy novel titled Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers was set and styled in the semblance of the age-long building. For the first time in 2017, the movie Winchester was filmed on the property. Many other projects have featured the house, such as Vanishing Point, The Haunting of Winchester, House of Suns, and many others which tells the story of the haunted house.
In a nutshell, the Winchester House defines horror.
9. It Is Still a Spirit Home
It’s been almost 100 years since Sarah’s death, but visitors and historical researchers have not been able to discard the haunting tales and strange voices believed to be heard in the house. Perhaps, Winchester herself has come to find a home in her building.