The Winchester Mystery House

For 38 years, Sarah Winchester dedicated her life to building the Winchester Mystery House, a humble abode for the many spirits that haunted her.

The Winchester Mystery House is a home where stairs end abruptly at the ceilings, doors open onto brick walls, and glittered stained glass windows are adorned with spiderweb designs.


It all started in the town of New Haven, Connecticut, where Sarah Lockwood Pardee was born. Coming from an affluent middle class family, Sarah was a child prodigy. By the age of 12, she was fluent in French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. Not only that, but she was recognized in society for her knowledge of literature and refined musical skills, ultimately being dubbed “The Belle of New Haven.”

This undoubtedly unique girl was then married to William Winchester. The Winchester family amassed a vast fortune due to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company where they developed the 1860 Henry Rifle, better known as “The Gun that Won the West.”

During their marriage, Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Annie, who unfortunately passed away from marasmus in July of 1866. Her daughter’s death drove Sarah to the edge of madness. It would take a decade for Sarah to overcome her loss. During this dark time,  William was struck with pulmonary tuberculosis, a disease that ended his life. As a result of his death, Sarah inherited 20 million dollars, and some Winchester Arms stock, making her one of the richest women in the world. She took her wealth and began building the Winchester Mystery House.

Winchester Mystery House

Sarah Winchester via Wikipedia Commons


The Winchester Mystery House Folklore:

Unsure of how to deal with her loss, Sarah sought out a medium who told her she was cursed and must sell her home to settle towards the sun. There, she would need to build a home for spirits who died from the Winchester rifle. If she didn’t continuously build the home, she would die. To her luck, Sarah found a six room home under construction in San Jose, California, that she purchased from a Dr. Caldwell.

The ever-constant construction of the Winchester Mystery House landed Sarah twenty carpenters who rotated shifts. They labored 24-hours per day, seven days a week. The house grew seven stories high; however, due to the 1906 earthquake, the house was reduced to four stories. Oh, did we forget to mention Sarah held séances every night at midnight so the spirits could tell her what to build next?

Other than the outlandish size of the house, what makes it so unique is the maze-like corridors, and the doors that lead to nowhere. Some doors would lead you to a dead end that might leave you hanging off the rails. No joke. There are rooms within rooms, and little doors that open up to wide spaces. She also created shortcuts that lead you in circles and quickly transport you to the other side of the house.

Feeling disoriented? We sure are!

Welcome to the Winchester Mystery House

The door that leads to nowhere. CC Spiel via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to the Winchester Mystery House

That’s a dead end. CC InSapphoWeTrust via Wikimedia Commons

Spider Web Window Winchester Mystery House

Spider Web Window CC Jean via flickr

Adding to the allure of this house are the prime numbers you can repeatedly find throughout the mansion. The most prominent number being 13. In fact, she had a chandelier reworked to hold 13 candles instead of 12. There are 13 sink drains, various sets of 13 wall hooks installed within the home, and 13 bathrooms. Rumor has it that seven and 11 were lucky numbers, and were used to create positive vibrations to cancel out the evilness of the number 13.

Sarah had multiple master bedrooms built. She slept in a different one every night so the spirits couldn’t find her.

Others claim the home is an intricate puzzle where Sarah created encryption codes, inspired by Francis Bacon. The iron gates, which lead to the winding staircase, otherwise, known as the switchback staircase, have Masonic symbols which shows “the guiding path of self-initiation.”

Sir Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon via Wikimedia Commons

Sarah passed away of heart failure at the age of 83 on September 5, 1922. She left a will written in 13 sections and was signed – you guessed it – 13 times. The Winchester Mystery House was auctioned immediately and soon became an attraction five months after her death.

Sarah Winchester

Sarah wore a black veil every day and dismissed servants or workers who saw her face. Via Wikimedia Commons


  • TheWinchester Mystery House has been declared a California Historical Landmark
  • The house has 161 rooms spanning 24,000 square feet over six acres
  • 2,000 doors
  • 10,000 windows
  • 47 fireplaces
  • 40 stairways
  • 13 bathrooms
  • Six kitchens
  • Three elevators
  • Two basements

Winchester Mystery House Today:

A new room has been discovered in the enchanting house! The attic was recently discovered. It has been boarded up since Sarah’s death.

There have been many psychics, employees, and visitors who are convinced this house is haunted by lingering spirits due to their strange encounters.

Enter at your own risk for you’ll be going down the rabbit hole when visiting this peculiar home!