At 525 South Winchester Boulevard, in San Jose, California, stands a Victorian-styled mansion called the Winchester Mystery House.
It is not just any regular specimen of antiquity. A residential place indeed, but Winchester Mystery House was not meant for mere human occupany. It was built with the sole purpose of providing shelter to ghosts!
The house was constructed in 1884, when Sarah Winchester thought it necessary to build a place for the spirits of those killed by the famous Winchester rifles, manufactured by her late husband and gun magnate, William Wirt Winchester.
Others, however, suggest that after the death of her husband and child, Mrs Winchester ended up as patient of depression and was only seeking a change of location and hobby.
The antique-turned-tourist-site has now been deemed the most haunted house in USA.
What makes Winchester Mystery House unique, apart from its spooky atmosphere, is its very design. The entire building is fashioned as a maze, to, as rumour goes, confuse the ghosts residing there. The place is dotted with rooms within rooms, and false doors, with some of them opening to a free fall.
What’s even more interesting is how the entire house carries the ominous number 13 as a recurrent motif. For instance, each of the windows in the house has 13 panels; the staircases have 13 steps each; while the ceiling also has 13 panels. According to the website, even Mrs Winchester’s will had 13 parts that she signed 13 times.
Some of the windows were personally designed by Sarah, that display a typical spider-web motif. As per legend, Mrs Winchester would communicate with the spirits every night at a particular room, named Seance Room, to receive instructions for designing.
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Sarah’s taste in art can be gauged from the brilliant array of antique items that adorned her bedroom. The walls showcase a creamy Lincrusta wallpaper, while the fireplace and windows remain as marks of her opulence.
Besides taking a tour around the house, one can visit the Historic Firearms Museum that exhibits one of the largest collections of vintage Winchester rifles which are at least a hundred years old, along with duplicates made famous by President Theodore and classic movies.
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not is a matter of debate. However, a lot of guides and tourists have claimed to have eperienced strange incidents, including images and orbs in photographs and videos. Certain parts of the house, like the corridors of the third floor, are generally avoided by tour guides after dark.
Tickets to the mansion, ranging between USD 20 (Rs 1280.71) and USD 37 (Rs 2369.31), can be purchased online, at least 24 hours in advance. Else, same-day ticket purchases are available at the nearby gift shop.