The Amazing Story of America’s Infamous Mystery House


Bettina Sanford, Staff Writer

There are many conspiracy theories based in the United States, some surrounding Area 51, the day 9/11, and even people the John F. Kennedy. The truth about conspiracy theories is that they cannot be fully proven or ruled out, so an air of mystery will always encompass them. One lesser known conspiracy revolves around a piece of real estate. The Winchester Mystery House, located in San Jose, California, was formerly owned by Sarah Winchester widow to William Wirt Winchester. The house is considered a historical landmark and currently serves as a tourist attraction. The story of the house starts with the death of Sarah’s spouse in 1881, Sarah inherited $20 million, in today’s money is equivalent to $543 million. She used this wealth to fund her continuous construction project expanding the house. According to American Rifleman, “The house today covers 24,000 square feet, four stories and as many as 160 rooms. It had 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 47 chimneys, 40 staircases, three elevators and a grand ballroom complete with an organ.”

The house is said to be haunte., Sarah believed that the death of her child and husband were caused by ghosts. The ghosts were of people that had been killed by the rifle created by her husband. She thought that the only way to appease these spirits was to keep building the house, she was convinced that if she stopped building she would die. That is why the house is so large with so many dead ends and even has a door on the second floor leading outside with a drop. Sarah Winchester was supposedly obsessed with the number 13. Windows contained 13 panes of glass, walls had 13 panels, floors had 13 wooden planks, rooms had 13 windows and every staircase contained 13 steps. 

Sarah lived a lonely life, the only people she interacted with were the servants who worked for her or the construction workers who built her home. It is said that at night she would wander the halls of the mansion in an effort to trick and confuse the spirits. Sarah Winchester died in her sleep at the age of 83, many believe that her ghost now haunts the premises. Since its opening as a tourist attraction many employees and visitors have claimed to encounter paranormal activity. People have reported hearing strange noises, footsteps, doors and windows banging shut, windows that suddenly shatter, and doorknobs that seem to turn on their own accord. You can tour the mansion in person or virtually through the house’s website. I first came across this story when I was in elementary school and it has always been stuck in the back of my mind since. Believing in its mysterious history adds to the addiction one may have to this property. I hope to visit it one day and experience the story in real life.