All over America, businesses are closing their doors in the name of public safety and flattening the curve. Some sections of the country, like New York City and California’s Bay Area, have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Among the many buildings closing down during this crisis is the Winchester Mystery House—Sarah Winchester's haunting, labyrinthine mansion in South Bay's San Jose. Although the spooky attraction has had to cancel walking tours for the time being, there is some good news for fans of the strange and unusual: the Winchester Mystery House is now offering free virtual tours through April 7th!
The story of this supremely eerie estate and purported haunted house is one of tragedy and self-determination. In 1862, Sarah Lockwood Pardee married William Wirt Winchester, treasurer and the son of the founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Four years after their marriage, Sarah gave birth to a little girl named Annie. Sadly, Annie died about a month after her birth. Then, in 1881, William passed away, leaving Sarah with $20 million dollars and 50 percent ownership in the gun manufacturing company.
Understandably, the deaths devastated Sarah. So in 1886 she left New England and moved out west to California, purchased a property in San Jose and began her mysterious construction project—one that lasted until her own death in 1922.
Legend has it that Sarah constructed her mystery mansion after receiving advice from a clairvoyant. This psychic warned her that she was cursed, haunted by the spirits of all those who died from the shots of Winchester weapons. The only way to keep herself safe and appease the spirits would be to construct a home of manifold hallways, doors, and rooms—and never stop building.
What started out as an eight-room farmhouse grew into a seven-story mansion, full of mystery and haunted by the pains of the past. Inside, stairways led to nowhere, hallways stopped abruptly, and doorways opened onto open air. A private seance room was included in the grand home's design, into which Sarah would enter alone at night. In total, Winchester Mystery Mansion boasts some 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, 2 basements, and 3 elevators.
Typically, the in-person tour of the house costs between $20 and $54 per person. Since there won’t be any (living) visitors allowed inside before April 7th, ticket vouchers are now being offered, along with the readily available 41-minute narrated video tour of the estate. To continue to support this one-of-a-kind attraction, consider visiting the online store to purchase a memento and a voucher for a later visit or become a member of the Skeleton Key Club.
In the meantime, settle in and click the button below to take the free virtual tour of the Winchester Mystery House now!
Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC