The Winchester Mansion was the home of Sarah Winchester from the time after her husband’s death until her own in September 1922. Sarah married into the Winchester family, and inherited approximately half of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company income after her father-in-law and husband died. Shortly after their deaths Mrs. Winchester visited a psychic about her suspicions that she and her family were cursed. The psychic allegedly confirmed Sarah’s suspicions, explaining that all of the people that had been killed by Winchester riffles were haunting the Winchester family. The psychic also claimed that if Sarah built a house for herself and the spirits, and if the construction of the house never stopped, then the spirits would let her live.
This reading is what began the construction of the Winchester mansion in San Jose, California in 1884. Sarah listened to the psychic’s declaration about her safety and hired round-the-clock workers to continuously renovate the house. The layout of the house is extremely confusing and is one of the many reasons this location is known as a tourist attraction today. There are doors that open up into ceilings, stairs that lead to nowhere, and windows that look into other rooms. Servants had to carry around maps with them in order to navigate the household and were still subject to losing their way in due to the constant changes. It has been said that new rooms are found all the time, and there’s a high probability that once you walk out of one room you may never walk into it again because you won’t be able to find it. As intriguing as all of this information is the most unique attribute about this house is the fact that the number 13 can be found everywhere.
There are 13 bathrooms with 13 steps on the stairs that lead to the 13th bathroom and 13 windows found inside. There are also 13 wall panels in the room preceding the 13th bathroom. The Carriage Entrance Hall is divided into 13 sections. There are 13 rails by the floor-level skylight in the South Conservatory, 13 squares on each side of the elevator, 13 holes in the sink drain covers, 13 glass cupolas on the Greenhouse, and 13 gas jets on the Ballroom chandelier. There are even 13 hooks for the 13 different robes Mrs. Winchester wore for the séances she held every night. What’s even more interesting than all of that is that there are 13 parts to her will and she signed it 13 times.
Mrs. Winchester welcomed the good spirits into her life and did what she could to make them happy, which is why there were only three mirrors located in the entire house. Spirits don’t like mirrors because they can’t cast a reflection and they vanish when they look into one. Servants were forced to carry pocket mirrors or grow comfortable without the use of any. Legends state that she would also hold dinner parties for her spirit friends where she would serve them on gold plates. Similar to pleasing the good spirits Mrs. Winchester did everything she could to avoid the bad spirits. Servants grew suspicious of Mrs. Winchester over the years from her odd behavior. They began to believe that she could walk through solid walls and unopened doors because she would often disappear and reappear all throughout the house. Whenever Mrs. Winchester believed that there was an evil spirit following her she would press a button and disappear into a wall where she would walk down a flight of stairs and back up, or into another room completely. She would do this because evil spirits often feel like they’re going to be trapped and these rouses would make them uncomfortable, so they would stop following her. Mrs. Winchester also never slept in the same room in the 38 years she lived in that house, explaining that this confused the evil spirits.
The Winchester mansion was known as “The Spirit House.” Through the years declarations of spiritual activity within the house have been made by various individuals. The Millers were caretakers of the home from 1973 to 1981. Mr. Miller explains that while tending the house he heard breathing coming from empty rooms and footsteps. Psychics from the Nirvana Foundation set-up electrical equipment to record psychic occurrences and note hearing definite organ sounds, Mrs. Winchester played the organ. They also claimed to have seen moving lights.
Other psychics have spent the night in the house dismissing any claims people have made about losing their eyesight, seeing locked doorknobs turn, or feeling cold chills in areas with no drafts. Regardless of the claims that these various psychics have made one thing is for certain, Sarah Winchester and her California home are one of the most interesting in the world.