4. The Winchester House

winchester-house

There have been a number of strange events reported at the totally unique Winchester House for many years and they still continue to be reported today. This Haunting makes the top ten in the USA , Number 4 Haunted House in America.

In 1884, a wealthy widow named Sarah L. Winchester began a construction project of such magnitude that it was to occupy the lives of carpenters and craftsmen until her death thirty-eight years later. The Victorian mansion, designed and built by the Winchester Rifle heiress, is filled with so many unexplained oddities, that it has come to be known as the Winchester Mystery House.

Sarah Winchester built a home that is an architectural marvel. Unlike most homes of its era, this 160-room Victorian mansion had modern heating and sewer systems, gas lights that operated by pressing a button, three working elevators, and 47 fireplaces. From rambling roofs and exquisite hand inlaid parquet floors to the gold and silver chandeliers and Tiffany art glass windows, you will be impressed by the staggering amount of creativity, energy, and expense poured into each and every detail.

Many many psychics have visited the Haunted house, most have come away actually convinced, that Sarah Winchester and many other tormented spirits still wander the Great maze of rooms.

In the years that the house has been open to the public, employees and visitors alike have had one to many unusual encounters with ghost. There have been the sounds of haunted footsteps; etheral music and many a banging doors; too often one hears mysterious echoing ghostly voices; several unexplainable cold spots; strange moving lights and orbs in ghost photos; witnesses have seen doorknobs that turn by themselves… and don’t forget the scores of people who have their own claims of phenomena to report but just are to afraid to do it.

Tour through 110 of the 160 rooms and look for the bizarre phenomena that gave the mansion its name; a window built into the floor, staircases leading to nowhere, a chimney that rises four floors, doors that open onto blank walls, and upside down posts! No one has been able to explain the mysteries that exist within the Winchester Mansion, or why Sarah Winchester kept the carpenters’ hammers pounding 24 hours a day for 38 years. It is believed that after the untimely deaths of her baby daughter and husband, son of the Winchester Rifle manufacturer, Mrs. Winchester was convinced by a medium that continuous building would appease the evil spirits of those killed by the famous “Gun that Won the West” and help her attain eternal life. Certainly her $20,000,000 inheritance was sufficient to support her obsession until her death at 82!

The Behind-the-Scenes Tour is a guided tour which takes guests into areas which had been unexplored for over 75 years. On tour you will learn how Mrs. Winchester’s 160-acre estate functioned. You will go into the stables, dehydrator, Plumber’s workshop, the unfinished Ballroom, and one of the basements.

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You will also learn about Victorian architecture as your guide points out the many features used in the building of the Winchester mansion. Safety hats will be worn on the tour. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour is limited to those 10 and older. Sorry, due to safety concerns, children 9 and under and babies are not permitted.

The Winchester Firearms Museum

The “Gun that Won the West” is the main attraction in the Firearms Museum, one of the largest Winchester Rifle collections on the West Coast. See the collection of guns that preceded the famous Winchester Rifle, including B. Tyler Henry’s 1860 repeating rifle that Oliver Winchester adapted and improved upon to produce his first repeating rifle, the Winchester Model 1866. Learn about the Model 1873 which came to be called the “Gun that Won the West.” See a collection of the Limited Edition Winchester Commemorative Rifles including the Centennial ’66, the Theodore Roosevelt, and the renowned John Wayne.

The Winchester Antique Products Museum

This museum contains a rare collection of antique products once manufactured by the Winchester Products Company, a subsidiary of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. In the years following World War I, the parent company launched a Post-war Program, aimed at expanding the manufacture of new products in order to fill the factory space previously used for military production. At one time there were 6,300 individually owned Winchester stores carrying these products, which made it the largest hardware chain store organization in the world! The museum now displays items produced in the 1920’s ranging from Winchester cutlery, flashlights, lawn-mowers, boy’s wagons, fishing tackle and roller skates, to food choppers, electric irons, and farm and garden tools.

For more information about the Mystery House, see the rather longer review of it in my magazine, Emerald City. There is also a review of Tim Powers’s excellent book, Earthquake Weather, which uses the Mystery House and various other spooky Bay Area buildings for settings.

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