America has plenty of mystery houses and haunted mansions to entertain thrill-seekers, but none beats the Winchester Mystery House, the odd creation left behind by a tormented woman who took building instructions from the ghosts she contacted in her daily seances.
Why build a place with staircases that go nowhere and windows overlooking other rooms?
Sarah Winchester spent an ill-gotten fortune to appease her ghosts by building a house that in the end proved unlivable.
She was the only resident ever to live in the haphazard California mansion and even she was terrified of the ghosts!
Who Was Sarah Winchester?
Sarah Winchester was born in 1939, in New Haven, Connecticut, in a wealthy family and, as far as anyone knows, enjoyed a serene privileged childhood.
In 1862, Sarah married William Wirt Winchester, heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, a very good match for a young woman of her station.
The young couple had a few good years together, until 1866 when their daughter Annie was born.
Unfortunately, the baby died only six weeks later, leaving her parents devastated. In 1881, William Wirt Winchester died of tuberculosis, aged 43.
His widow was 42 at the time and she suddenly found she had no idea what to do with her life.
Sarah inherited an immense fortune, $20 million, the equivalent of $529 million in today’s money, plus 50% of the Winchester holding which generated an income of $1,000 a day, or $26,000 in 2020 dollars.
She was the richest woman in the world at the time, but instead of enjoying her fortune, she dedicated her life to building what would later become known as the Winchester Mystery House.
Word From Beyond
Sarah Winchester never recovered from the loss of her loved ones and sought solace in seances, inviting mediums to her house in an effort to contact the dead and ask them what to do.
Legend has it that during one of this seances the spirit of her dead husband manifested itself and instructed to sell their New Haven residence and head to California where she was to begin her true mission.
Apparently, her dead husband wanted her to build a house to appease the ghosts of all the people killed by Winchester rifles, so she would not be haunted by them for the rest of her life.
Some have said maybe the widow was in search of a new beginning, but testimonies of those close to her speak of a woman who firmly believed she and the money she’d inherited were cursed.