Historic Structures

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose California

Date added: May 18, 2021 Categories: California House Mansion

Constructed over a period of 38 years because its owner, Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah L. Winchester believed she would live as long as construction continued, the house contains 160 rooms and covers six acres. The original portion purchased in 1884 contains 17 rooms. Some of the 40 stairways and 2,000 doors lead nowhere.

The history begins at the height of the Civil War when Sarah L. Pardee met and married William Wirt Winchester, the son of the manufacturer of the famous Winchester Repeating Rifle. They were married on September 30, 1862. They had one child, Annie Pardee, who died about a month after birth. (June 15, 1866-July 24, 1866). Then, about 15 years later, on March 7, 1881, her husband died.

Mrs. Winchester was deeply upset at these deaths, and seems to have consulted a spiritualistic medium who told her that the reason for her husband's and daughter's deaths was that the victims who had been killed by the rifles her family had and was still manufacturing, were seeking their revenge by taking her husband's and daughter's lives. Further, they had placed a curse on Mrs. Winchester stating that if she wished to . continue to live, she must appease them by moving out west and continuously without ceasing, build a home for them night and day.

She then did move out west and settled in what is now San Jose, California, purchasing an eight room farmhouse from a Dr. Caldwell. then began her continuous construction operations in 1884.

With a great deal of money and very few responsibilities, she satisfied her every whim and arrant notion in her uninterrupted building operations. She had no master plan for a house and according to her carpenters, built whenever, wherever and howsoever she pleased. As a result of the constant building, tearing down and remodeling, her mansion spread out over the southeast section of her 162-acre estate. She built steadily until her death on September 5, 1922.

The Winchester House is the only and, therefore, most significant of a type in its unique structure. Although it is basically Victorian, the structure has overtones of a midwestern or eastern Victorian home with its mixture of shingles, sidings, bric-a-brac, cornices and appurtenances which show traces of definite eastern influence in design not found in local craftsmen.

Originally, the Winchester Estate covered 161.919 acres, but the land was subdivided and sold in smaller lots by the heirs of Mrs. Sarah L. Winchester. Today the Winchester House is situated on the southeast third of an 18.40 acre tract of Winchester Mystery House Properties, with the front doors facing east and parallel to Winchester Blvd.

You can tour the mansion today in person or via a video tour. Visit the offical website here for details and more information. You can also purchase souvenirs and a book about the mansion at their offical online store