The House With Too Many Rooms

The Winchester House

If you don’t know what the Winchester house is, you are extremely out of the creepy loop. It’s one of my favorite horror stories and I would love to go visit the house. There’s also a horror movie out about the house starring Helen Mirren. I have yet to see it, but it is on my watch list.

I figured, as one of my favorite horrors, it would be a great start to Scary Day.

Before the haunting began, there was simply William Wirt Winchester and his wife Sarah. William inherited his father’s business, who made the Volcanic Repeater, a rifle that had a mechanism to load bullets (Taylor). After a while William wanted to make the gun better and so the Henry Rifle, a gun similar to an automatic, was born. The family business was renamed to Winchester Repeating Arms Company and money flowed in from everywhere, including the government. But that was the end of the good luck in the Winchester family.

In 1866, Sarah gave birth to their first daughter, Annie, but unfortunately, Annie contracted a disease called “marasmus” and dies nine days later. After her death, Sarah fell into mourning and hid away, almost falling into madness. It was a decade before she returned to her normal self, but never had another child.

Another tragedy struck when William contracted tuberculosis and died in 1881, leaving Sarah with the Winchester business, $20 million, and half of the income from the business which was about $1000 a day.

In her grief, Sarah’s friend told her to see a spiritualist is hopes of getting some closure. When there, the spiritualist said, “’Your husband is here,’ the medium told her and then went on to provide a description of William Winchester. ‘He says for me to tell you that there is a curse on your family, which took the life of he and your child. It will soon take you too. It is a curse that has resulted from the terrible weapon created by the Winchester family. Thousands of persons have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking vengeance.’” (Taylor).

The spiritualist told her she must move to the west with her husband guiding her and she will find the house where she belongs. She said, she must start a new life and build a new house for the spirits seeking revenge. She must never stop building or she will die.

Shortly after, she sold everything in New Haven and moved to California. Believing she was guided by her dead husband, she kept traveling until she found a house under construction in the Santa Clara Valley. After much negotiation with the current owner, she finally bought the property and started building, and never stopped. She hired many craftsmen and built, rebuilt, destroyed, altered, changed, and anything else to the house non-stop. Hammers and saws were constant day and night.

The house grew from 6 to 26 rooms. A nearby railcar was even turned on to carry materials to the house. Even though she claimed to have no master plan, Sarah met with the foremen everyday and went over the plans for the day. Every once in a while, they didn’t turn out as planned and she simply said to add another room.

“As the days, weeks and months passed, the house continued to grow. Rooms were added to rooms and then turned into entire wings, doors were joined to windows, levels turned into towers and peaks and the place eventually grew to a height of seven stories. Inside of the house, three elevators were installed as were 47 fireplaces. There were countless staircases which led nowhere; a blind chimney that stops short of the ceiling; closets that opened to blank walls; trap doors; double-back hallways; skylights that were located one above another; doors that opened to steep drops to the lawn below; and dozens of other oddities. Even all of the stair posts were installed upside-down and many of the bathrooms had glass doors on them” (Taylor).

Sarah had a wild obsession with the number 13, many of the add-ons had something to do with the number thirteen. 13 panes in the window, 13 panels on the wall, 13 steps, 13 windows, so on, so forth. Even though everything in the house made no sense to others, it was perfectly sane to Sarah. She believed the maze of the house would confuse the spirits of the people killed by Winchester guns and keep her safe from them. The house grew until it was seven stories high with only Sarah, her servants, and the workers.

In 1906, the San Francisco Earthquake destroyed a large portion of the house. The top three floors of the house collapse and were never rebuilt. Sarah took the destruction as a sign from the spirit as though they were furious that she was almost done with the house and wanted to make sure she never finished. So she blocked off the front 30 rooms to keep the spirits locked inside. The workers kept building and repairing after the destruction, adding rooms and chimneys that served no purpose.

One night on September 4, 1922, after a séance with the spirits, Sarah went to bed and died sometime in the morning at the age of 83. Everything went to Sarah’s niece but soon everything was sold off, including the house to an investor who wanted to use the house as a tourist attraction. The house came to an estimate of 160 rooms but because the floor plan was so labyrinth-like it was never established.

Today, the Winchester house is open to the public for tours and there are many speculations if the place is actually haunted. Even though there are many statements from the employees and guests saying they have had ghostly experiences, many people think it was all just because an eccentric woman had too much money.

What do you guys think?

Thanks for reading!

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