This weekend the movie ‘Winchester‘ starring Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester hit theaters. What many may not know this supernatural thriller is based on a true story and true house. The movie is based on the story of Sarah Winchester, the heiress of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. A young Sarah Pardee married William Winchester the son of Oliver Winchester who owned Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The Winchester Rifle would go on to be responsible for many deaths which would play a huge factor in Sarah’s life. Sarah and William had a daughter Anne who died 6 weeks after she was born. When Oliver died William inherited the company and money however when William passed away Sarah inherited the business, money, heartache and she would soon learn a family curse.
With what most would consider all the money in the world, Sarah Winchester could not find happiness after the loss of her daughter and husband. Her friend suggested that she speak with a spiritual medium in hopes of finding comfort. The medium explains that there is a curse on her family as a result of the deaths that the Winchester Rifle caused, and those spirits were seeking revenge. The medium told her to sell her home and move west and start building a house for herself and the souls of those lost to the weapons. The good souls would lead her in the right direction and if she kept building then the bad spirits would stay away. Also as long as she kept building, she would live but if she stopped she would die.
So she sold her home and moved to Santa Clara Valley in 1884 where she found a 6 room house already under construction. She then hired 22 carpenters who worked 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. As days, weeks and months went on the house grew to 7 stories with peaks, towers, 47 fireplaces, elevators, skylights, staircases that lead nowhere, hallways, doors that lead to no-where. She purposely had oddities added to the home like glass doors on the bathrooms, stair posts were installed upside-down and she was obsessed with the number 13. The windows contain 13 panes of glass, the staircases had 13 steps, the walls had 13 panels and even the greenhouse had 13 cupolas. She felt that these things would confuse the spirits who might be there to harm her.
On September 4, 1922, after a session with the spirits in the séance room which was a nearly daily occurrence for Sarah, she went to her bedroom for the night and at some point, during the night she passed away in her sleep at the age of 83.
After Sarah’s death, the furnishings and belongings were sold, and it took the moving men 6 weeks to get the furniture out of the house because of the confusing and ever-changing floor plan. Once inside after five years, they determined the home had 160 rooms.
The Winchester Mansion has now been declared a California Historical Landmark and part of the National Park Service as “a large, odd dwelling with an unknown number of rooms.” The question of whether the house is haunted or not is still a hot topic but the morbid history behind it is scary all the same.
If you are intrigued by the story of Sarah Winchester and the famous Winchester Mystery House you can catch the movie in theaters now or you can tour the mansion located at 525 South Winchester Blvd in San Jose, California.
If you get a chance to take the remarkable tour I would be so interested in what you find out. As a ghost hunter myself the Winchester Mystery House is on my “ghost hunting bucket list” but I am afraid it will never be a reality so I will have to live through you all….you tell me if you think it is haunted or just extremely cool….
Rachel is not a professional writer but she is a passionate writer. What does that mean for you dear reader? On one hand, that means misspelled words, run on sentences, forgotten words and rambling content. On the other, you will get humor, honesty, passion and hopefully interesting content.