The Haunted Winchester Mystery House: A Maze Of Eccentric Design And Hidden Secrets

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This mansion has quite a backstory. One of the owners of the Winchester mansion was Sarah Winchester, the widow of a firearm magnate. According to some, Sarah built the house after a medium told her she was cursed by spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles, who demanded she construct a house for their sins.

Exterior view of the Winchester House. Photo credit: Uladzik Kryhin /

The Winchester Mystery House is by far the most notorious house of its kind. It’s located in San Jose, California and has since become a legend for its Queen Anne-style Victorian architecture, lack of master building plan, insane size, and the eerie stories that shroud it.

Hand-tinted ambrotype of Sarah Winchester taken in 1865. Taber Photographic Co, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate Winchester, once owned the Winchester mansion. She built the sprawling mansion with a tremendous amount of money she inherited after her husband died. 

Despite the mansion’s glamorous appearance, its history is filled with tragedy. Several sources believe that Sarah started building it after a medium told her she was cursed by ghosts of those who died with Winchester rifles and was required to build them a house in order to avenge their sins.

Sarah Winchester’s bedroom inside the Winchester mansion. Photo credit: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Unsure of how many rooms would be made. Sarah Winchester designed the mansion with the belief that it would confuse the ghosts haunting her, without employing an architect. The result is a sprawling and mysterious labyrinth of oddities such as trap doors, stairs leading to nowhere, secret passages, windows overlooking other rooms, doors opening into blank walls or nothing at all. It has about 160 rooms but due to its unique construction and maze-like design, the exact number is unknown. Her haunting was caused by a rare type of ghost that cannot pass through walls.

Some interesting footnotes about the the Winchester Mystery House:

  • The house is asymmetrical, with no two rooms alike.
  • There are many staircases, some of which lead nowhere.
  • There are doors that open into walls, and windows that look out onto other rooms.
  • There are many secret passages and hidden rooms.
  • The house is full of strange symbols and markings.
  • The house has 13 bathrooms and 2,000 stairs.
  • There is a staircase that leads to the ceiling.
  • There is a door that opens onto a brick wall.
  • There is a window that looks out onto another room.
  • There is a secret passage that leads to a hidden room.
  • There is a staircase that changes direction mid-flight.
  • There is a room with no windows or doors.

Over a period of 38 years, the house was continuously under construction until it ceased upon Sarah Winchester’s passing from heart failure. Following her death on September 5, 1922, her niece and personal secretary inherited all possessions apart from the mansion which had no mention in Sarah’s will. 

Appraisers deemed the house worthless resulting in it being sold at auction for slightly over $135,000 before being leased to John and Mayme Brown for ten years who later bought the property. The mansion opened its doors just five months after Sarah passed away as a public attraction. 

Photo credit: DreamArt123 /

Since then, many visitors have come by to check out the mansion. There is an interactive tour as well. Each year, there have been about 500,000 visitors who come here out of curiosity. Currently, the home is owned by Winchester Investments LLC, a privately held company representing the descendants of John and Mayme Brown.

Due to the inspiration behind this location, a horror film was made about the Winchester’s and the Winchester Mystery House was the subject. The 2018 film, was directed by the Spierig Brothers and starred actress Hellen Mirren as the reclusive heiress. 

Another production that is quite famous is Supernatural which lasted 15 seasons, it centers upon both Sam and Dean “Winchester” who battle against supernatural forces. The surname of these characters is a hat tip to the famous Winchester Mystery House. The house has been featured in other movies and television shows, including “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Ghost Adventures,” and “The X-Files.”

It is another interesting location to check out if you are ever in San Jose, California. From what is understood the location is open 7 days a week to the public and only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. And by the way, The Winchester Mystery House holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous house construction. 

Source: Fancypants Homes

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