San Jose’s most mysterious house

San Jose is a perfectly normal Californian city, except for the fact that it’s located in Silicon Valley, so there’s a lot of high tech stuff happening in San Jose’s immediate vicinity.

It really doesn’t matter what innovations the geniuses around San Jose invent, nothing they do could be as wacky or as mysterious as the house that Sarah Winchester built.

Sarah Winchester was extremely wealthy because she married the son of the man who invented the Winchester repeating rifle.  Sarah lived in New Haven, Connecticut but fell into deep depression when her infant daughter died.  Fifteen years later her husband died prematurely, and in despair she consulted a medium for advice.

According to legend, explained that her family and her fortune were being haunted by spirits – in fact, by the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by Winchester rifles. Mrs. Winchester was instructed to move west and appease the spirits by building a great house for them. As long as construction of the house never ceased, Mrs. Winchester could be  rest assured that her life was not in danger.

In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farm house just three miles west of San Jose – and is consumed her for the rest of her life during which she produced the sprawling complex we know today as the Winchester Mystery House.    

Sarah Winchester spent the next 38 years building the house which is a Queen Anne Victorian-style mansion that has seemingly been cobbled together without any master building plan.

Originally seven storeys in height, the house was affected by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and is now just four storeys high. It has 160 rooms, or which 40 are bedrooms, and there are also two ballrooms. The house also has 47 fireplaces, about 10,000 window panes, 17 chimneys, 950 doors, 2 basements and 3 elevators.

It has gold and silver chandeliers and hand inlaid parquet floors and trim. There are doors and stairways that lead nowhere and a vast array of colors and materials. And the house is so big that approximately 20,500 gallons (76,000 litres) of paint were required to paint the house.

Throughout the house number thirteen and spider web motifs, which apparently had some sort of spiritual meaning for Sarah, reappear around the house.  It was originally built on 162 acres (650,000 m²) of land, but today has just 4.5 acres (24,000 m²).

The Winchester Mystery House is now San Jose’s most famous tourist attraction and gets that many visitors that there is now a theatre and restaurant complex next door.  It is located at 525 South Winchester Blvd.

Today you can join one of the four different guided tours of the house: the Grand Estate Tour, the Mansion Tour, the Behind the Scenes Tour and the Garden Tour.

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