Friday, October 26, 2012

The Winchester Mystery House

I have known about the Winchester Mystery House since I was little.  I remember watching tv shows about it with my mom and desperately wanting to visit, even before I lived in California.  I was always intrigued by the mystery that surrounded the home. 

The year was 1881.  Sarah Winchester was the heiress to 50 percent of the Winchester rifle fortune.  After the deaths of her baby, father-in-law, and husband, she became convinced that she was cursed.  She visited a medium who told her that the spirits were angry because they had been killed by Winchester rifles.  The only way to appease them was to move west and build a house for herself and the spirits.

The house was originally an 8 room farmhouse.  Work started in 1886.    It continued for the next 38 years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  To say the house is maze-like does not describe what it is like to walk through it, up and down stairs, in a pattern that makes little sense.  Many people have theorized that Sarah designed the house this way in order to confuse the spirits.  The staff needed maps to navigate it.  

The front part of the house was originally 7 stories high.  Most of it collapsed during the famous San Francisco earthquake in 1906.  Sarah believed that this meant the spirits were upset because she was spending too much time on the front part of the house.  She boarded it up and continued working on the rest of the house.

Photography was not allowed inside of the house, but I was able to capture its magnificence from the outside.  There are many odd features, such as stairways that lead to ceilings, windows that opened into walls, and a recurring theme of the number 13.

One of the most famous features is the door that leads to nowhere.  You can see it from a distance in the picture above, and up close in the picture below.  I would not want to have been to person that originally discovered this exit.

We took a tour of the basement and saw the heating system for the entire house, which was a boiler room that was warmed with coal.

There were numerous fountains and statues around the house.  This serpent fountain is directly in front the of main door.

Here is a more detailed shot of the front door, decorated for Halloween.  There seemed to be crushed glass on the stairs, but I am not sure of the significance.  Does anyone know?

Sarah wanted to placate the spirits of the Native Americans who were killed by Winchester rifles.   To do this she erected this statue of Chief Little Fawn stalking a deer.  You can see that they are across the lawn from each other in the first picture below.  The other two pictures are closeups of each individual statue.
The house is about 24,000 square feet.  There are 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 52 skylights, 47 fireplaces, 40 bedrooms, six kitchens, 13 bathrooms, 3 elevators, and one shower.  You can easily get lost inside.  

Construction stopped on September 5, 1922, the day of Sarah's death.

After World War I, there was a decreased need for military arms in the US, so Winchester shifted its production towards tools and sporting goods.  The gift shop is also a museum that houses some of these antiques.
Since we happened to be visiting during the month of October, the grounds were decorated for Halloween.

There was also a maze set up in the gardens that served as a haunted house at night, which we didn't get to check out. 

However, they did have a scavenger hunt through the maze for visitors during the day.  My cousin Vicki and I took a moment to pose.   

Have you ever visited the Winchester Mystery House?  Are you interested in visiting now?  Any interesting haunted places in your home city?  I would love to hear about them.


Adele said...

I bet your Halloween decorations can give this place a run for their money!
Have a fab weekend Hun xoxo

colleen said...

47 fireplaces?! damn. this is such a cool story that i knew nothing about - thanks for sharing!

MM said...

I love this place!! Hope to see it one day!!
The last picture is my favorite!! Such pretty ladies!! :)

Enjoy your weekend,honey!


Kristina said...

Holy crap. This place is amazing? Was it spooky inside?? My husband is obsessed with the idea of ghosts. He would love this.

working-mom said...

Great post!!

Wow loving this too much :) :)



Emmy said...

OMG! My hubby is really into this stuff, and he's always wanted to visit the house. Maybe someday, although I don't know if I'm brave enough :O

rooth said...

Omg I've totally seen this house before and want to go. Is the inside as creepy as the outside??

Loulou said...

How fascinating! I would love to see that place. Must have been so neat, and spooky. You got great pictures.

I like the photo of you and your cousin. (Nice that you have a cousin that you can hang out with ... Mine all live far away and always have, so I don't know them as well as I'd like to.)

Wishing you a great weekend!

livlovelaugh said...

omg this seems so much fun! I miss american halloween :(


Patricia Ayuso said...

great post!!! i follow you now ;)
i would love to follow me back because love your blog!!

Gloria said...

I visited the Winchester house on my last visit to Cali! Love how they spooked it up for Halloween!

Stephanie said...

I want to visit this house so badly! I just asked the boyfriend if we could do "something fun" this weekend because I don't have a wedding. He said sure but needed specifics. I think I might suggest this!! I also want to check out the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz!

honey my heart said...

it would be so interesting to go here during halloween! i see signs each time we are up north and am tempted to check it out.

Heather said...

Wow, how cool! We did a ghost tour here in the DC area a few years ago, and it was lots of fun!

Allison said...

My sister & I were obsessed with visiting that house because as kids we were fascinated with it. I have to say that we honestly weren't as excited once we did go. I do love that they decorated for halloween though!
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Anouka said...

I would love to visit it one day!


About Last Weekend said...

We've seen the signs for this a million times but have never gone to it. Maybe over Tgiving, somewhere to take the in-laws. You last photo is so cute!

Jess said...

That place looks amazing!

Elle Sees said...

i've alwayssss wanted to go there! i've driven by but i was always on the road to elsewhere. loving this!!

Denisa said...

Wow. That house look great. Nice style.

Hvae a nice weekend.

Midheta Agic said...

Such an amazing photos.
I'm so into it.

Would u like to follow each other ?


Midheta Agic said...

Such an amazing photos.
I'm so into it.

Would u like to follow each other ?


Sam said...

I like reading stories like this, so mysterious! Viewing houses that are supposedly haunted is pretty scary, maybe in the daytime only *winks* I bet its fun in a group, really captures the spirit of Halloween, great pics! In response - Halloween isn't a holiday here but some nightclubs host halloween parties just for fun where people get dressed in costumes and party the night away. Theres no Trick or Treating for kids and no pumpkins or any of the traditions

Punctuation Mark said...

I had never heard of this house... This is so interesting and I'm definitely wanting to go and visit... Have a great weekend!

E said...

Wow...that house is impressive. It must have been a ton of fun to explore.

Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista said...

I have always wanted to visit this place! And it looks extra fun in the fall! I will have to keep that in mind for when I eventually make it there one day!

Beauty Follower said...

No I havent, Looks like fun to be there!

jamie-lee said...

Oh I've heard of this house too - how cool that you got to visit it, especially as it's almost halloween1

Steph said...

I think I would be too creeped out to see this place in person! The story is really cool though and the outside of the house looks incredible!

kcomekarolina said...

that looks fab!

xoxo from rome

Hanna & Christel said...

looks awesome and scary!! i'm such a cowerd I would never have the guts to visit one haha!


Suze said...

That is the coolest thing I've ever seen! I'm definitely going to visit if I'm ever out there.

I love haunted tours, ghost tours, etc. But this house is amazing on its own!

Carla said...

OMG i love this post!! I want to go to that super cool/spooky house!!~!! So fun! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment. I love your blog! Following :) xoxo

Margaret Cruzemark said...

I love this, great pics!!Keep it up!!
Best Regards
Miss Margaret Cruzemark

Jenny @ Spry On The Wall said...

Can't even imagine actually being inside this crazy house. I would love to see it in person. Great post!

Nico Saich said...

Hello lady! I just became an instant follower of your blog! I saw your comment on Ivana's blog and had to check out your page! I love it! All the halloween posts are really getting me into the spirit! The Winchester Mystery house is also a favorite of mine! So fun to visit! Do you live in the San Jose Area? If so, we are almost neighbors, Im in Santa Cruz! I hope you can take a peek at my blog and maybe follow back!


Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

This place is GORGEOUS!! Erin, I so enjoyed reading the story and history behind it. So glad you got to go and share it with us. SPOOOOKY!

Lorena said...

WOW Erin i remember reading about ths place while growing up ! and then seen a documentary about in in my teens...
Here crushing glass and putting in on an entrance means you are not welcomed.

Mary Ann said...

I've also seen info about this house on tv (history or maybe discovery channel, can't quite remember) and it's always intrigued me! I'd love to visit like you were able to! ;-)

SizzleandZoom said...

It is a beautiful house on the outsid. I've always wanted to visit. Which one is you and which one is your cousin?

BeautyShades said...

Scary clown :)

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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