Oliver Winchester is perhaps most known for having developed the gun that won the west, the Winchester repeating rifle. One other famous creation however is also associated with his family name, the Winchester Mystery House.
When Oliver and his son William passed away, the family fortune was inherited by William’s wife, Sarah. A medium told Sarah that the restless ghosts of those who had been killed by Winchester rifles had to be appeased. The only way to do so was to continuously build a house without completing it that would be acceptable to the ghosts.
Sarah started building in 1884 in Santa Clara, California. Carpenters worked every day for 38 years until Sarah’s death in 1922. The house cost more than $5 million dollars and has 160 rooms, 10,000 window panes, 950 (some sources say 2000) doors and 40 staircases.
The mansion is odd in many ways. One theory for its oddities is that Sarah felt the need to confuse the ghosts. Some stairways, doors and windows were built in a convoluted jumble or lead nowhere.
Fact or Fiction?
One version of Sarah’s story says she had more than conscience bothering her. She may have also been driven by intense fear. The medium was also said to have told her that the ghosts were responsible for the deaths of her husband and infant daughter and that they were out for revenge. If the house was not built, Sarah would die.
*Photo of Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA from www.winchestermysteryhouse.com