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Winchester House

Winchester House, the most mysterious house in the world

To say that at Winchester House the mystery is at home is an understatement: to be true Winchester House, a 19th century building located in San Jose, California, is probably the home of the mystery par excellence.


A unique building in the world that collects oddities and enigmas in every room. Doors that don't lead anywhere, 5 cm high steps, windows that overlook other rooms, stairs that end against the walls: apparently Winchester House seems to have been made by a madman, in reality its strangeness has a reason.

The beauty of New Haven

The palace was built in the 1800s, when superstition and beliefs linked to the paranormal were even more widespread than today. The owner of Winchester House, Sarah Lockwood Pardee, widow Winchester, was a woman born of a wealthy family in 1837 in New Heaven, Connecticut, of rare beauty (in life she was known as “the beauty of New Haven”), with a marked intelligence and great vivacity (among other things she spoke 4 languages and played the piano perfectly).

Already blessed with good fortune, she was even more since September 30, 1862, when she married William Wirt Winchester, heir to the company that produced the famous Winchester weapons. With the American civil war underway, the wealth accumulated by the Winchesters at that time was so great that it could hardly have been calculated in today's terms.

Winchester House esterior

Two griefs disrupted Sarah's mind

Four years after her marriage, in 1866, Sarah gave birth to her only daughter, Anna, who died shortly after being born. The woman reacted in the worst way, verging on madness; a few years later even William Winchester died of tuberculosis and the mental health of the woman was irretrievably compromised.

It was 1881 and Sarah found herself sitting on a fortune that had few rivals in the world: over 20 million dollars in assets and a daily income of 1,000 dollars, the equivalent of about 25,000 euros a day today. Harassed by grief, Sarah Winchester's mental health deteriorated further until a friend suggested she meet a Boston medium.

She told Sarah that there was a curse on the Winchester family and that the spirits of all the people who had been killed with Winchester firearms were infuriated and shouted revenge. The medium then advised Sarah to move and build a house that would house not only her but also the spirits, also recommending her never to interrupt the construction, if she cared about life.

A house built in accordance with the spirits

Sarah decided to move to the Santa Clara Valley in California, buying a rough farmhouse that she started building on a construction site that never stopped, day and night, until her death in 1922. During the work they did not come never drafted maps to work on.

Simply, Sarah made sketches on a slip of the rooms and the details she had in mind and passed it to the carpenters who, strange as they appeared, satisfied her oddities given the money she was willing to spend. With friends and acquaintances Sarah claimed that it was the spirits, who had learned to contact through the medium, to tell her to build the house that way.

In particular the spirit of the beloved husband would have shown her how to build the rooms, furnish them and orient them. Advice that the woman followed to the letter, developing what eventually became more a palace than a house, with 160 rooms, 2 ballrooms, 40 bedrooms, 6 kitchens, 1,247 windows and 13 bathrooms.

Winchester House interiors

A set worthy of a fantasy film

Above all, Winchester House looks like a fantasy movie set, with columns built with capitals on the floor, windows in the floor, secret passages through which to disappear, doors that open onto walls, stairs that end up against the ceiling, skylights built one on the other, a horizontal piston lift, fully furnished rooms without access, a bathroom accessible only from the outside.

The reason? Sarah argued that this made her build them to deceive evil spirits and make them lose their way into the depths of the house.

The number 13 in particular is very recurrent in the details of the construction, rich in modified 13-branched chandeliers, coat hooks in multiples of 13, Tiffany-style windows with 13 colored stones each, 13 holes in the sink siphon of the bathroom, stairs with 13 steps, doors with 13 panels or the large bell that every Friday 13th plays 13 times at 1pm (instead of giving a single chime like all the bells in the world do).

Features that helped transform Winchester House into a national monument in the United States, visited each year by tens of thousands of people. And who knows that even Sarah's spirit was not trapped between her rooms.

Tags: Unsolved mysteries