Spook Central: The Winchester House

Posted by junketseo in San Francisco Ghost Tours
Spook Central: The Winchester House - Photo

The Winchester Mystery House is the grand-daddy of haunted houses. The story of the house begins with the death of firearms magnate William Wirt Winchester. 

Facts about the Winchester Mansion:

You can visit the Winchester House. It’s an established California historical landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, privately owned, and a tourist attraction.

  • Sarah never once slept more than one continuous night in a room. She constantly changed between alcoves, sometimes sleeping on the kitchen floor, inside a bathtub, or in a closet. 
  • The house is made of redwood, but Sarah disliked its appearance. More than 20,500 U.S. gallons of paint were used to create faux grain and stain the wood.
  • There are about 161 rooms, some unfinished. There are also 47 fireplaces, more than 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, 3 elevators, two ballrooms, and two basements.
  • There is only ONE working toiler in the Winchester house. All other restrooms were decoys to confuse the spirits.
  • The mansion has Tiffany windows and panes designed by Tiffany himself. Each one is a masterpiece and worth more than what a top brass at Apple makes in a year.
  • The place is baroque in its adornments. Sarah never skimped out on them, believing that beauty could trick ghosts and demons and conceal her from their attention. 
  • When Winchester finally died, all of her belongings – apart from the house – were handed over to her niece and personal secretary. It took more than six weeks to remove all the furniture and knickknacks in the house. Most were sold in private auctions. Mediums, psychics, warlocks, and witches were said to have frequented these auctions.


The History Of The Winchester House


After her husband passed away and tuberculosis claimed another victim in 1881, Sarah Winchester inherited more than $20.5 million. Sarah was already, by 1881, gripping to sanity. She had “visions”, heard “things”, and her grasp on reality was fragile in the best of times. She was also certain that her whole bloodline was cursed. A couple of years before, her infant daughter had died of an illness known as marasmus, a horrible malady that withered her girl to bones and flesh right before Sarah’s eyes. That pall of despair had shrouded her life and engulfed her in a spiritual malaise since that bloodcurdling episode. 

During this period is when it’s believed Sarah went off the deep end. She’d become convinced that she was the object of an evil game; something otherworldly was feeding off her despair. Sarah went to Boston and met with a medium in an attempt to channel her late husband and, potentially, get some answers.

Allegedly, the medium was able to contact Winchester and, ultimately, received a horrifying message from the other side: Sarah and her family, her children, her lineage, and anything that shared her bloodline were bedeviled and doomed. The ghosts of all those who died at the killing end of a Winchester arm were after Sarah.

Following this devilish message, Sarah began her quest to outrun her tormentors.


The Winchester Mansion


In 1884, Sarah bought an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began constructing her ghostly diversion tactic. She didn’t spare a single dime. She had teams of carpenters, handymen, and landscapers working on the mansion around the clock. What she didn’t hire was an architect.

The Winchester Mansion was built haphazardly. The house contains doors and stairs that lead nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms, ceilings of different heights, and oddities atop oddities.

Other architectural fixings are stapled into place by Sarah’s belief in ghosts. By now, Sarah had become obsessed with the unexplained, purchasing arcana after arcana. She had educated herself on the otherworldly and had commissioned book hunters to fetch her every grimoire lost to history. What she gleaned from those texts, some forbidden by the Vatican, fueled her plans and reworked her blueprints.

Sarah continued building her ghost trap until her death on September 5, 1922. The very second she passed, construction ceased, and the workers fled to the hills. 


Haunted California


The mansion is unique, a treasure trove of weird beliefs, and speaks volumes of a woman’s psychological condition. Ghosts, spirits, and other beings are said to have directly influenced and instructed Sarah on how the house should be built. The home maintains personal touches that reflect Sarah’s understanding of the spirit world and her preoccupation with warding off malevolent phantoms.

The estate is said to not only be haunted by just about everything with an ectoplasmic signature but might very well serve as a gateway to other dimensions and spiritual plains, according to some experts. 

For more macabre tales check out our blog. To discover more haunted locations of California, book a ghost tour with San Francisco Ghosts!