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The Winchester House

Located in San Jose, California, it once was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, but is now a tourist attraction., largely because it has unique architectural features. For example, it features secret passages to hidden rooms, windows backed by solid walls, and staircases that go nowhere. It is also rumored to be haunted by the ghost of its original owner, Sarah Winchester. Deeply saddened by the deaths of her daughter Annie in 1866, and her young husband in 1881, and seeking solace, Sarah Winchester consulted a medium on the advice of a psychic. The "Boston Medium" told Winchester that she believed there to be a curse upon the Winchester family because the guns they made had taken so many lives. The psychic told Winchester that "thousands of people have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking deep vengeance."

Another version of the story says that after the deaths of her daughter and later her husband, she consulted a medium who told her that she must build a house and never cease building it, otherwise the spirits that killed her family members would come after her, too. Winchester inherited more than $20.5 million upon her husband's death. She also received nearly 50 percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, giving her an income of roughly $1,000 per day, none of which was taxable until 1913. This amount is roughly equivalent to about $22,000 a day in 2010. All of this gave her a tremendous amount of wealth to fund the ongoing construction. After that she began construction on the maze-like house full of twists, turns, and dead ends, so that the spirits would get lost and never be able to find her.

Winchester began construction on the 160-room mansion in 1884 and continued adding rooms until her death in 1922. Her compulsive building was based on her belief in spirits. As the daughter-in-law of the man who invented the Winchester rifle, she became convinced that her construction projects would in some way appease the ghosts of those killed by the rifle her father-in-law had invented and that if she did not appease them she would die. For most of her life she tried to contact the spirits at séances that she held at Winchester House, and she incorporated the number thirteen into her building projects because she thought that this number was naturally appealing to ghosts. Some of the house stairways, for example, have thirteen steps, and her chandeliers have thirteen lights. There are thirteen bathrooms in the house, and one room has thirteen windows.

In the years since Winchester’s death, visitors to the mansion have reported hearing mysterious footsteps and slamming doors. A tour guide reported hearing his name whispered in a room where no one else was present, and a caretaker heard breathing behind him when he was alone. Other people have felt cold spots in an otherwise warm room and have smelled soup cooking in a kitchen devoid of pots. Others who work at Winchester House have reported finding locked doors inexplicably unlocked and lights spontaneously turned on and off. One employee, the director of food and merchandizing, came to work to find his desk, chair, and the surrounding floor soaked with water, even though the room’s ceiling and walls were dry.

Sources :
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena by Patricia D. Netzley;

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