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The Mysterious Duo (Part II): Winchester Mystery House

31 October 2011 No Comment

Winchester Mystery House exterior

It took us less than thirty minutes to get to the Winchester Mystery House from the Mystery Spot, which was excellent as we had been anticipating this visit. We had first heard of the place earlier in the year when we were chatting with some friends on some of the weirdest and spookiest buildings in the world. However, our friends did not know of the place’s name, and could only describe vaguely the location (in California) and the characteristics of the building (large number of rooms, staircases leading up to the ceiling, fake doors which are actually walls etc.). Imagine our surprise when a relative who lived in California described of the Winchester Mystery House which was located just a couple or so hour’s drive away. There was no way we would miss this opportunity.

Winchester Mystery House exterior

Here’s a quick background on the Winchester Mystery House, which used to be an unfinished farmhouse. Rumor has it that this is among the top three most haunted houses in the United States. It was owned by Mrs. Sarah L. Winchester, whose husband owned the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Mrs. Winchester was certainly wealthy, for she owned just under 50% of the shares of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, worth about US$20 million, and that was in the 1880s. However, her life was not so smooth sailing.

Troubled by her husband’s and infant daughter’s premature deaths, Mrs. Winchester sought the help of a spiritualist. It was said that the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifles were haunting her family and fortune, and the only way for Mrs. Winchester’s life to be spared was to build a great house for those spirits, and to never stop construction. That’s why the construction of the house and the surrounding areas continued for thirty-eight years, until her death.

Ticket booth at Winchester Mystery House

The ticketing counter

Upon reaching, we made our way to the ticket counter located inside the gift shop. There are three types of tours; the Mansion Tour (US$30), the Behind-the-Scenes Tour (US$27) and the Grand Estate Tour (US$35). The Mansion Tour, lasting about an hour, brings one through 110 of the 160 rooms to view the various oddities that give the house its name. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour, lasting also about an hour, brings one through the estate’s gardens, external buildings, and the basement of the house. The Grand Estate Tour combines the first two tours, making it a two hour tour of the entire Winchester Mystery House estate. As we were running late, we decided to just take the Mansion Tour.

Winchester house

We apologize for the lack of photos of the interior of the house, as the taking of photos was prohibited during the tour. However, we managed to snap a photo of the smaller sized door used by Mrs. Winchester, which told us a bit about her short stature. The door on the left of it is a normal sized door.

double doors at the Wincheser house

Our tour guide took us through the rooms in the house, stopping at various places to point out bizarre architectural oddities, such as the Switchback Staircase (seven flights with forty four steps, rising only three meters, as each step is only two inches high), the staircase that led to the ceiling, miles of twisting maze-like hallways and the Séance room. We were also brought to a storage room, where exquisite and expensive materials and furnishings worth a fortune were kept (Tiffany art glass windows, German silver and bronze inlaid doors, rare precious woods), all waiting to be placed in the house. Other stops included the Hall of Fires, where three adjoining rooms had four fireplaces and three coal registers from the coal furnace in the basement, and the Grand Ballroom, where two leaded stained glass windows each inscribed with a Shakespearean quote “Wide unclasp the table of their thoughts/ These same thoughts people this little world”, take center stage. The significance of these remained a mystery till today.

Winchester house gift shop

The tour ended back at the large gift shop, which also has an interesting display of items produced by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in the past. For those who cannot resist purchasing souvenirs, the gift shop is packed with items bearing the Winchester Mystery House logo.

It was all in all a very interesting tour, though we would have loved to have gone on the Behind-the-Scenes Tour. It was certainly an eye-opener. If you happen to be in the area during this period, and you love a good scare, check out the Fright Nights event currently being held on selected dates between 30th September and 31st October 2011. We are sure they wouldn’t disappoint.

Travel Info

Winchester Mystery House
Address: 525 Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128, USA
Tel: 408 247 2101
Website: http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com

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