W is for Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is possibly the most bizarre house I have ever seen.  Honestly, it is a beautiful structure.  Pictures of its exterior show what appears to be a huge, beautiful but intricately detailed house.  Intricate does not even begin to describe the inside of that house, though.

The house is a maze with some of the weirdest features: a staircase that leads to the ceiling, a door that leads to nowhere, a cabinet that is 1/2 inch deep and another that opens to the next room, a window in the floor… the oddities just keep adding up.  Why so strange a design for a house?  It’s all thanks to Sarah Winchester.

Sarah had married William Wirt Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifles.  He died a premature death, and this death in addition to her infant daughter’s death years before brought Sarah Winchester to a state of depression.  She sought the advice of a spiritualist who told her that the spirits of those people who had been killed by a Winchester rifle were haunting her and her now dead family.  The only way to avoid being the next target of these spirits was to build a house and never stop construction on that house.  Thus began the construction of what we now call the Winchester Mystery House.

Sarah Winchester made sure that construction on the house never stopped so as to appease the spirits.  She also had special features built into the house in order to confuse the spirits.  This is why there is a staircase that leads right up to the ceiling and a door that opens to nowhere among other unique features.

Sarah Winchester also found meaning in things that others may not.  She felt that the number 13 was significant, and traces of this belief can be found throughout the house.  For example, there are 13 bathrooms in the house and sink drain covers have 13 holes in them.  Also (if my memory from the tour I went on is correct), an earthquake at one point shook the house during the night.  Damages trapped her inside the front bedroom she had been sleeping in (rumor has it she never slept in the same room two nights in a row).  It took hours before she was able to get out of the room.  She took this as a sign that the spirits felt that construction should end on the front of the house.  So, Mrs. Winchester abruptly ended the construction there and send all workers to begin construction on the back of the house.

Ok, so I just took a decently long time to explain just a bit about the Winchester Mystery House, (the information of which came both from the memories of my own visit there and their website).  I went there several years ago, and it really is very cool.  The tours are guided (I think so that people do not get lost).  To me,  it’s just crazy how this woman became so involved and dedicated to this belief in a need to always be constructing this house.  And construction didn’t stop until she had died.  Now, we all have the opportunity to see this amazing structure.  The last time I went, it was on an afternoon in July.  If I go again, and I hope I do, I want to go on one of the flashlight tours at night!

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