Its most famous landmark is the Winchester Mystery House , 525 S Winchester Blvd, just off I-280 near Hwy-17 ($12.95-22.95; daily 9am-5pm, until 7pm June-Sept). Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, was convinced upon her husband's death that he had been taken by the spirits of men killed with Winchester rifles, and believed that unless a room was built for each of the spirits and the sound of hammers never ceased, the same fate would befall her. Work on the mansion went on 24 hours a day for the next thirty years - stairs lead nowhere, windows open on to solid brick. The Rosicrucian
The grounds has one of the most lovely gardens I have seen. You should just wonder around and take in the beauty. Plus there are other structures you can see inside on your own from the garden walkway. Lots of lovely fountains and statues. Some of the nicest I have seen.
In 1884, a wealthy widow named Sarah L. Winchester began one of the most oddest task till her death 38 years later by having her house constantly built on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep the dead spirits away from exacting revenge on her for her husbands invention, the "Winchester Rifle."
What can be said about being so superstitions that such fear can affect the very aspect of everyday living?! Goes to show you that money cannot buy you happiness. Although being one of the oddest architectural built Victorian homes, it still has that lasting beauty of a hardy era. This house encompasses about 6 acres so far, 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms and 10,000 windows. The windows always encompasses at least 13 windows in a room, stairs of 13 steps that lead to no where.
When we took the tour the house felt errie and sad. You can almost feel it. While outside enjoying the gardens it almost felt someone was always watching you from every window.
There is lots to see here and you will get your monies worth in the tour, in fact that is the only way you can see because of the safety factor.
The house has many dangerous aspect to it since sometimes doors way lead to a drop off to the next floor or floors left undone. So stick to the tour!
Unfortunately, the tours are run rather like a conveyer belt. You're assigned a time and put in groups, and usually have to wait some time in the gift shop (gee, I wonder why that might be?). The groups are quite large, rather too large for some of the rooms. There's not much time for lingering in any of the rooms to catch the many fascinating design details or enjoying any of the views.
That said, the place is fascinating on an architectural and design level, whether you believe the stories about spooks, believe that Sarah Winchester believed, or consider that she took her hobby rather too seriously and that the rumor mills built everything from very little foundation. She was far more practical than you might imagine from the stories and even invented ways to make various household tasks easier.
The Winchester Mansion is a zany tourist trap a few miles west of downtown San Jose. It was built by Sarah Winchester, a native of Connecticut and wife of William Winchester, the son of the man who started the Winchester Arms Co. When Mrs Winchester's child and later her husband died, she went a little wacky and moved to San Jose (not that everybody who moves to San Jose is wacky, but she can't be the only one).
She bought a small farm house on 160 acres and just kept adding rooms and remodeling old rooms until her death in the 1920s. Some people think she saw ghosts ("I see dead people") and built the house with dead ends and secret passages to confuse them. In my experience, ghosts are difficult to confuse, and they usually know all the secret passages better than the people who built them. Besides, ghosts don't need passages, they are ghosts.
Many say the ghosts who haunted her were those killed by Winchester guns. If I was a ghost, I'd haunt the guy who killed me instead of the daughter-in-law of the person who invented the tool that was used in my death. By this logic, 30,000 Americans a year should be haunting Ford, GM & Toyota for their deaths in cars made by those companies. And what about the people killed by Smith & Wessons, Colts, Berettas... did they all haunt Mrs Winchester or did they pick an innocent bystander to haunt in each of those families?
Back to the house. It has some 160 rooms, many of them damaged in the earthquake of 1906. Almost all of the rooms have beautiful natural lighting using Mrs Winchester's unique open architectural designs with great windows in the walls and sometimes in the floors. She also had a few neat innovations like her sloped floors to conserve and reuse water as well as her system for calling her servants.
People say when she died the carpenters happily quit and moved on. I have a hard time believing this as they made double what other workers in San Jose were bringing home, and they had a guaranteed job for life, as well as free living quarters on her estate.
Sarah L. Winchester, the Winchester Rifle heiress, started building this house in 1884 after the death of her husband. This house is really an architectural marvel. 160-room Victorian mansion was built continuously 24 hours a day 365 days a year for 38 years straight- to appease the dead spirits that Mrs. Winchester felt haunted her. I love old houses especially those with pocket doors and stained glass. This house has all the elements that make a beautiful older home and then some non-sensical details that make it even more interesting. For example: it has stairs that lead to nowhere, secret rooms (who wouldn't want one of these??),and a very expensive front door that no one ever walked through except for the man who installed it?? If you like bizzaro with a mix of rich elegant architecture-this is the place.
Put some walking shoes on the tour entails lots of walking
Sad for a woman to live her life in such turmoil, hopefully in death she found the peace she apparently couldn't find while alive.
I believe it cost around $23 a person-we took the regular Mansion tour since we had small kids with us.
A bit of a tourist trap, but a cute one. Sarah L. Winchester, widow of gun magnate William W. Winchester, thought that the ghosts of the people killed by the Winchester rifle would come for her when she finishes building her house--so she decided she'll never finish. Parts of the house were constantly being built and torn down, doors were built that opened into walls, stairs were built that simply went into the ceiling, etc. There's really no mystery at all to the Winchester Mystery House, but it's cute to look at (though the tickets--at more than $20 a piece--are a bit steep). Additionally, Mrs. Winchester had enough money that she was able to amass quite a collection of some quite fancy stuff, which can also be interesting to look at. If you have a good tour guide, you may get to have some of the really nasty architectural mistakes pointed out to you.
Sarah Winchester the rifle heiress bought this place as a standard house and on the advice of a psychic kept adding to it for the remainder of her life (nearly 40 years). It is a masterpiece of ad hoc design with rooms, staircases etc. being added in a haphazard fashion. Look out for the staircase that goes up to the ceiling and more importantly the door that opens onto a two storey drop.
Sarah Winchester married the inventor of the famous Winchester rifle (the one often seen in western movies). He died shortly thereafter. She consulted an alleged psychic or "spiritual advisor" who said that she had to buy this small house and continue adding on to it non-stop. Otherwise, all the ghosts of the men killed with Winchester rifles would return to haunt her.
So she spent several decades doing just that--creating this sprawling mansion. It's full of anomalies, such as a staircase that goes up to the ceiling, closets less than a foot thick, and doors that open onto thin air with no floor beneath. Stay with your guide; this place is a maze, and it's very easy to get lost. That's because Sarah Winchester wanted it that way, to deceive the spirits.
Sarah Winchester was definitely one of a kind.
Visit this Victorian mansion built by Sarah Winchester, widow of rifle manufacturer William Winchester. Construction began in 1884 and continued without interruption until the death of Mrs. Winchester in 1922.
This is a 160-room mansion with an area of 6 acres.
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