The Winchester Mystery House is a one-of-a-kind place in the world.
It’s one of those sites that due to its geographical position, the peculiarity of the events occurred, architecture and historic evolution contribute in their own originality to motivate (and enhance) the choice of an itinerary in the United States.
But then, once reached the destination, you realize that San Jose– the California’s town which has “housed” the Winchester Mystery House for over 150 years – is in itself wonderful and rich in interesting paths.
Itineraries ranging from the history of the ancient Franciscan Missions to the birth of the California’s state, from relax to tasting and shopping as far as the exploration of one among the most stimulating and famous technological and innovative centers in the whole area: the Silicon Valley.
160 rooms among halls, rooms and service rooms.
A boundless garden rich in symbols and statues and a striking series of turrets, porches, balconies and spires.
Inside it stairs ending into the ceiling, steps getting smaller, doors opening on the walls, corridors ending in the corners and in the walls, roofs taking to other rooms and stairs.
And even attics, towers, “mobile” floors and a downright obsession for the number “13”, practically present everywhere: in the number of the windows glasses, the stairs, the chandeliers’ branched candlesticks, the organ pipes, the clock bells’ strokes, even in the notes and the chapters of the will of its eccentric female owner.
The boundless, labyrinthine and creepy Victorian dwelling Sarah Winchester – the only heiress of the millionaire estate coming from the guns’ sales of the Winchester brand with the same name – made build in the second half of the 1800s and made modify uninterruptedly for even 38 years until her death.
Sarah thought that her husband and her only daughter untimely death (they died due to pneumonia and child marasmus, respectively) were due to anger accumulated by the spirits of the millions of people whose death was caused by the deadly Winchester guns – you think about the thousands of victims of the wearing Civil War.
“When you want to kill a man, you must shoot for the heart and the Winchester is the best weapon.”
(a quote from the movie “A Fistful of Dollars”)
Broken by pain due to her dear ones’ loss, strongly influenced by her interest in spirits and the mediums she were usually neighbored, Sarah got convinced to build a sort of giant house-labyrinth where to trap the angry spirits and finally find peace.
The location’s choice was the town of San Jose, in California.
The building of the dwelling developed without any logic meaning, project or design.
The widow Winchester daily gave detailed instructions to the workers about works after have had precise indications by the spirits during the night – at least so the sources say.
The story goes that the servants needed a map to move through the property and that Sarah was the only one who knew the precise locations of every single room.
Still today it can happen that following restoration works or inspections, some passages or new rooms inexplicably sealed and inaccessible for over a century are found.
The Winchester Mystery House is included among the first 10 most “haunted” houses in the USA and guides and visitors’ paranormal activity tales are on the agenda.
It seems Sarah itself – died here of old age in 1922 – wanders about the corridors adjoining her room and the dining room “animating” the daily guided tours and that some of her nearest servants and attendants – among them the trusted gardener – keep “haunting” and “guarding” the house.
The Winchester Mystery House was over time a matter of interest for the experts in the occult, detractors – the illusionist Harry Houdini himself made some experiments in a few rooms to demonstrate the absence of paranormal activity – and in the latest years even local TV programs dedicated to the paranormal world.
Whether you believe or not the Sarah Winchester’s visions story and the ghost presence or any other activity occurred inside the house – it is impossible to deny some passages and rooms are really creepy and without any logic meaning – the Winchester Mystery House deserves a visit regardless.
At least for its great historic value, the location and the ability of the very well prepared guides in telling and showing every single detail and episode, even related to San José.
The Winchester Mystery House was opened to the public as a museum just one year after Sarah’s death, occurred on September 5, 1922.
The standard tour – strictly guided – lasts one hour and half about and it included the tour of the insides, the garden and some permanent exhibitions inside the facility, developing on a 25.000square meters area about.
You’ll be able to verify really the existence of the narrow passages, the stairs which getting smaller end up in the walls, the doors opening on the walls and the attics peeping out from nothing.
You’ll have the possibility to visit a wonderful Victorian dwelling, with vintage furniture and a precious collection of original Tiffany’s glasses. And with installations definitely innovative considering the period, like the very genial system of loudspeakers to contact the servants or the futuristic horizontal pistons elevators.
On February 22, 2018 the “Winchester” movie will be released in the movies. It is inspired right to Sarah Winchester’s story, to her obsession for the paranormal, to the events which took to the building of the dwelling and to the interaction with Eric Priceed, a sceptic psychologist of San Francisco who was decided to find out the truth about the house and her female owner.
The actress Helen Mirren plays Sarah.
The exterior and aerial shootings of the movie were made right in the Winchester Mystery House, while the interior of the House were reconstructed in an Australian cinematographic studio.
The Winchester Mystery house is opened 7 days a week 9am-7pm.
Due to security reasons – the house is a downright labyrinth – children under 10 are not allowed to take part into the tours.
It’s possible to book the tours directly from the official website: my tip is to have the tour at sunset, certainly the most suggestive and less “crowded” moment.
The Winchester Mystery House is located at 525, S Winchester Blvd in San José, little far – 5 minutes on foot – from the elegant Santana Row shopping mall, the wonderful buildings with a Mediterranean savor, hotels, stores, restaurants and famous night clubs as a group.
The ideal place to stop for a couple of nights and to explore San Jose and its neighborhoods.
For any further information about the Winchester Mystery House, the news about the movie or all the things to see and to do in the town is advisable to look the Visit San Jose official website up.