The Widow Of Which Famed American Entrepreneur Spent Millions On A Mansion For Ghosts?
In San Jose, California there is a beautiful but rather curious mansion. Known as the Winchester Mystery House, it was once the home of Sarah Winchester, the window of renowned gun designer and entrepreneur William Winchester.
Sarah began construction on the mansion in 1884, three years after her husband’s death. While, officially, her reason for moving west and beginning construction on the home was a change of pace and locale after the death of William Winchester, unofficially there was clearly an additional motivation behind the mansion project. Sarah had allegedly visited a famed Boston medium and been told that she would find no peace until she had built a home that could house all the souls of those killed by her husbands rifles.
Building a house big enough for everyone killed by a Winchester rifle would certainly be no small undertaking, but it’s one that Sarah apparently took very seriously. From the ground breaking in 1884 until her death in 1922, construction on the mansion continued around the clock. At any given time, workmen were adding rooms, crafting new hallways, expanding the foundation, or otherwise making room for the ethereal guests Mrs. Winchester was worried about. When construction ceased, there were 160 rooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass both in exterior windows and throughout myriad interior windows, 3 elevators, and a variety of very modern amenities for the time including forced-air heating, indoor plumbing, and push-button gas lighting. The total construction cost, adjusted for inflation, is estimated at approximately 75 million dollars.
Image courtesy of the National Park Service.