This ‘Winchester Haunted House’ is located in the Santa Clara Valley and is open year round. It was the brainchild of Sara Winchester (Sarah Pardee) heir to the Winchester Gun fortune. She had 22 workers build this odd ghost house. It is assumed to have 160-rooms (estimated, because the finished floor plan of the home is so confusing that room counts always end with differing numbers). It is a sprawling mansion in San Jose California, that was built based on no set floor plan, from a house that originally had fewer than 8 rooms. It sits on 4.5 acres and the construction began in 1884 and ended in the year 1922, when Sara died. This 38-year venture was the idea of the widow Winchester whom felt that she was suffering from the vengeance of spirits. The Boston widow believed that her family was cursed because of the family Winchester business and that this curse was the cause of the unfortunate deaths of both her husband (William Wirt Winchester ) and her young daughter (Annie Pardee Winchester), both of whom are buried in New Haven, Connecticut. The young Annie died from an illness known as “marasmus“. It is said that Sara suffered mentally for 10 years over the death of her daughter. Within four years the death of her husband was brought about by pulmonary tuberculosis. She thought that thousands of those killed by her families’ rifles had placed a terrible dread upon her own family. Consultations with her personal spiritualist medium led her to building this unending home to appease the spirits that were vying against her and her loved ones. Sara was warned that the building of the house should not cease if she wanted to avoid death and this is why the house expansion continued on for almost 40 years.
The house comes complete with twisting, turning stairways and hidden corridors that were designed to confuse and disorientate the ghosts that resided inside the house. The house also had 3 elevators, 47 fireplaces, closet doors that opened to blank walls and trap doors. Before a 1906 earthquake, the house had reached an amazing 7 stories in height but was reduced to only 4 stories.
Intrigued by the number 13, Sara had the builders incorporate it in the home, windows were made with 13 panes, stairways had 13 steps and there were 13 panels used on the wood walls.
Sara died in her sleep at the age of 83 and left her niece (Frances Marriot), what was left of her diminished resources.
KPIX-TV documentary film from 1960
The home’s final cost to build was $5.5 million, sources say that because of the damage caused by the quake and the shear oddity of the houses interior design, it sold for only $135,000.