I visited many places on my vacation, one of which was the Winchester Mystery House, a creepy and supposedly haunted Victorian Mansion in San Jose, California.
Sarah Winchester was the wife of William Wirt Winchester, the Treasurer of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company until his death from tuberculosis in 1881. Sarah and William had one child, Annie, who died shortly after birth in 1866. After William’s death, Sarah Winchester inherited a fortune worth over $20 million, with a guarantee of $1,000 every year (adjusted for inflation, worth $23,000) today. Believing that she was being haunted by the ghosts of the victims of the Winchester Repeating Rifle, Sarah Winchester moved from Connecticut to California, and bought an unfinished house in San Jose in 1884.
Workers and carpenters finished building “The House That Fear Built”, but Sarah was afraid that she would be killed by the evil spirits if she stopped building the house. Therefore, she continued the construction of the Winchester House from 1884 until her death in 1922, with her workers working day and night on the mansion that would eventually become 7 stories high. During the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Sarah was trapped inside her own house due to rubble blocking the doorway to her upper bedroom, a scenario that made her even more paranoid, with her taking it as a sign of the spirits being displeased with the pace of her work. She therefore stopped building up and started building outward, and would rarely ever visit the upper rooms again. Sarah Winchester died in 1922 of heart failure, despite having worked continuously on the house since 1884.
When I visited the Winchester Mystery House, I found it to be a very odd house, an assumption many have made. It has doors leading to nowhere, rooms with no apparent purpose, and even a staircase that leads nowhere. These seemingly useless rooms and doors were made to confuse the spirits in her house. Sarah Winchester also had many easy riser stairs made, as she was a small woman in height and also had arthritis. She bought many expensive things, such as windows now displayed in the “$25,000 Room,” obviously worth much more than that now. She even bought a window made by the famed Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany Glass, a window designed to cast rainbows around the room it was installed in, but Sarah put it in a room without direct light exposure. She was very superstitious, and the number 13 was prominent in her design of the house. She even made a set of doors to the house that only she and the workers who installed it ever walked through. One legend tells that around 1903, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Winchester House, but upon knocking on that door, he was told by a worker to “go around back like everyone else.”
During my visit to Winchester House, I learned much about a woman who sadly did not realize the fantasy that surrounded her. Only her belief that evil spirits were hunting for her allowed her to be consumed by fear. Sarah Winchester feared what would happen to her on Earth and built herself an expensive mansion rather than focusing on what is most important: serving God and earning permanent riches in Heaven.