Winchester Mystery House
You've undoubtedly heard a thing or two about this famous California mystery house, or perhaps even seen a few shows and/or movies based on it. The Winchester Mystery House is one of the most famous 'haunted' houses in America, a sprawling landmark mansion in San Jose, California, holding over 24,000 square feet of secrets and stories!
Here is a quick rundown of the home's history:
- Sarah Winchester, the widow of Winchester Gun tycoon William Wirt Winchester, bought this home in 1886, then a mere 8-room farmhouse, wrought with sadness after both her infant daughter and husband died.
- Sarah began what is today called the 'worlds longest home renovation', continuously adding on rooms, staircases leading nowhere, and trap doors.
- Sarah died in 1922, and the house was 'completed' with the new title of the 'worlds most unusual and sprawling mansion'.
- Doors opened for guests to come to tour the home in 1923 (over 12 million have viewed the home since then).
The biggest mystery of the home is why Sarah decided to keep adding on to the home, and more importantly why she added on rooms and features that had no purpose. There are staircases to ceilings, doors to bricked walls, and ornate rooms with no purpose every which way you look. In fact, there are 160 rooms total in the home! There are also 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, and 47 stairways. Some believe Sarah built on the house to appease the ghosts of the 'Gun that Won the West', others believe a psychic told her to.
When your group visits you will be able to tour the home and decide for yourself! Take the basic 1-hour Mansion Tour and see 110 out of the 160 rooms, the Explore More tour, with access to 10 more never before toured rooms (no kids allowed due to safety issues), or perhaps the VIP Caretaker Tour, a 2-hour in-depth viewing of the home complete with an onsite luncheon. There are also 2 different seasonal tours (Friday the 13th and Halloween), as well as a 45-minute Video Access Tour for those with difficulties walking.
During your visit, you will also have the chance to explore the many Victorian gardens outside, see the onsite Firearm Museum, the onsite Antique Product Museum, and even Sarah's Attic Shooting Gallery and Arcade. You can plan to spend the whole afternoon or evening here, as there is also an onsite cafe serving up American classics as delicious as the story of this home!
Check out this new movie starring Helen Miran based on the home and its history.