28 March 2007

Winchester Mystery House

Was browsing through the local travel brochures when this caught my eye. The Winchester Mystery House which is located right behind Santana Row.

The name Winchester comes from the famed Winchester Rifles where it has been around during the days of the Wild West, through the American Civil Wars and even to the more recent World War I.

The whole Winchester Mystery House came about when the widow of Winchester's 2nd President, William Wirt Winchester, inherited a cool USD 20 million dollars (a shit load of money in today's terms like what? USD 420 million?) and a daily income of USD 1,000 per day (per DAY! Again, agar agar USD 21,000 in today's terms) from her late-husband's ongoing Winchester Rifle Company. She was advised by a medium that in order to allay the spirits, she has to continue building a house without stopping. With the money available, she went ahead and started building non-stop 24/7 for the next 38 years. In the end, from a modest 8-room barn, it became a 160-room mansion.

Here's the funny thing about the house, there were a lot of weird stuff like a cabinet door that opens to a wall or a door that opens to the air outside on the 2nd floor.

I will post photos below and talk a little about them as I go along. As usual, images are clickable for enlargement or click here to see the Winchester Mystery House set .

Here is the front of the house and take note of the 2 statues at the foot of the steps. In the present day, the man statue is on the left while the lady statue is on the right. A very old photo revealed that the order was reversed i.e. lady on the left and guy on the right. Nobody knew how or when the statues were switched. Speculation has it that it was a prank by the local college kids but nobody was able to verify that till today.

This ornate window is located at the front door and was from Tiffany & Co.

Speaking of front door, it was told that in the house's entire history, only 3 persons have walked through it. They were Sarah Winchester and the 2 carpenters who built the door. It was sealed when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake hit them. It could have been 4 people when then-American President wanted to pay a visit to Sarah Winchester, having been a ardent fan of the rifle. Unfortunately, he was turned away by the gardener who didn't recognise him and told him to go round to the back and apply for a job like everyone else. President Theodore Roosevelt left in disgust.

As I have mentioned earlier, there were a lot of weird things going on. From staircase that lead to nowhere, to doors that opened to a wall, to a cabinet door that opened to another room.

Then there is this one a door that leads to nowhere. The famous "White Door". If you were to walk out the door from the inside of the house, you will find yourself plunging into empty space from the second storey. This is a view of the door from the outside of the house. The sign "Door To Nowhere" was added later on.

Another weird thing is the occurrence of the Number 13 throughout the house. From 13 candles on the chandelier, to 13 panels on the ceiling, to 13 palm trees along the drive way (4 of the trees had died, leaving only 9 standing today).

Here is a picture of the bell tower that used to ring every day at 12pm and 5pm to signal the workers to come in for their meals. Legend has it that it also mysteriously rang in the middle of the night when Sarah Winchester was having her seance sessions.

Today, in her memory, the bell tower is rung 13 times at 1300hrs every Friday the 13th. A supposedly favourite day of Sarah Winchester.

Perhaps this is the most expensive Tiffany window in the house with 13 gem stones. It was supposed to bring the brilliance of the colours when the sun shines through it. Problem is that the window was installed facing North and so direct sunlight never had the chance to realise the marvellous splendour of the window's potential. Another one of those weird things by Sarah Winchester.

- Voxeros

1. aloe left...
Friday, 30 March 2007 9:06 am
Why seal the house leh? Since the house is sealed, it means that people who visit the place, can only stare at the outside of the house? Looks interesting leh.

2. OLLie left...
Friday, 30 March 2007 7:50 pm
eh. I think this house is really the one I read about when I was young. Was it creepy? I loved loved loved it. The mystery of the occurrence of 13, and the doors that lead to nowhere. Ahhh.. I wanna visit the house! It looks so totally cool.

3. JayWalk left...
Saturday, 31 March 2007 1:51 am :: 
Aloe: It could be for 2 reasons. 1) The earthquake has rendered the structure of that portion of the house unsafe and as such sealing it would be a better measure to preserve it. 2) Sarah Winchester perhaps believe that leaving that portion of the house alone would appease the spirits better.

Ollie: It more of bizarre than creepy. Although however, there are certain spots in the house that felt chilly and when you stepped into the next room, the temperature felt ok again instantly.

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