Window in the middle of the floor at the Winchester Mystery House. photo by Kala Ambrose
“The tender word forgotten, The letter you did not write, The flower you might have sent, dear, Are your haunting ghosts tonight” – Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
You’ve heard of haunted houses, but what about a house designed by the haunted to keep the ghosts at bay?
In San Jose, California, a house just of this nature exists. It all began back in 1862, when Sarah Pardee married William Wirt Winchester, the manufacturer of the infamous Winchester repeating rifle. Sarah gave birth to a daughter Annie, who soon died from marasmus at only 42 days old. This fact is intriguing, as marasmus is caused by a lack of nutrients, displayed as energy deficiency (wasting away). Could the haunting of Sarah by spirits, already been around her at this time, depleting her energy and resources while pregnant? Her husband William later died from tuberculosis. Alone and grief stricken after losing her only child and husband, Sarah journeyed to Boston to speak with a spiritualist medium, seeking advice on why her life had been filled with such great misfortune.
The spiritualist medium reportedly told Sarah that she was haunted by the spirits of hundreds of ghosts, the spirits of those who had been killed by a Winchester repeating rifle. These spirits included soldiers from the Civil War, Native Americans and cowboys in the Wild West.
The medium went on to explain that in order to escape the continued hauntings, Sarah would need to move out west and to build a house. The house would not be an normal type of house, rather the construction must never cease. According to the medium, as long as construction was ongoing in the home, it would keep the angry spirits disoriented, while providing a place for the good spirits to commune with Sarah and protect her from further danger. In addition, the architectural design was meant to be complicated and confusing in order to vex and confuse the angry spirits, which would distract them from finding and further haunting Sarah. Sarah took this advice to heart and moved from Connecticut to San Jose, California and bought over 160 acres of land, where she began and continued construction on a home, which is now referred to as the Winchester Mystery House.
After her husband’s death, Sarah received twenty million dollars along with shares of stock in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. It is reported that the dividends that she received averaged about one thousand dollars a day, along with her millions in the bank. This was in the late 1800′s, into 1900′s, when there was no income tax and the average rate of pay was less than a dollar a day. Read the rest of this entry »