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Who doesn't like a good scare? I mean there is a reason that
horror stories are so popular. Whether they are being told at night
around a campfire or shown on the big screen, people flock in huge
Who doesn't like a good scare? I mean there is a reason that horror stories are so popular. Whether they are being told at night around a campfire or shown on the big screen, people flock in huge numbers to watch them. And rightly so, because the adrenaline rush that getting scared gives you is something else.
But what happens when the line between these fake and real stories begins to blur? One such story is that of the Winchester House.
The construction of this house started in 1884 and went on till 1992, but the actual story started a little earlier.
Sarah Pardee, famously known as the Winchester heiress, got married to William Wirt Winchester on 30th September 1862. In 1966, Sarah gave birth to her first child, a girl named Annie Padree Winchester. Unfortunately, the baby died one and a half months later due to marasmus.
Oliver Winchester, the father of William Winchester and owner of the company producing the Winchester rifles, died in 1880 leaving the company to his only son, William. Tragedy struck again and William died in 1881, just a few months after his father due to tuberculosis.
According to legend Sarah, in a grief struck state, contacted spiritualists and mediums to understand the death of her daughter and husband. It was her visit to one medium that she was told that her family was being haunted by the ghosts of the people killed by the Winchester rifles. The medium also informed her that her husband wanted her to leave everything and move west. She had to start building a house and never stop building and if she did stop, evil spirits would haunt her. Good spirits would guide her with the construction.
As a result, Sarah moved west and bought a 8 room farm in San Jose, California. She started construction and 500-600 rooms were built but due to Sarah's constant remodeling, only 161 rooms remain. However, the house is most famous for its odd and peculiar way of building which was in an effort to confuse the evil spirits. There are stairs which lead to the ceiling, doors opening into brick walls and perhaps the most famous, the door to nowhere which opens into a sheer drop from the second floor.
Some of the theories suggested as to why the house is built this way are as follows:
According to this theory, Sarah had arthritis i.e. pain and stiffness in her joints. She had a hall of fire built, a hallway literally lined with fireplaces in order to help with this problem. This does explain why some staircases were never completed as Sarah no longer saw the purpose of continuing them.
But regarding the strange build of the house, this theory offers no explanation.
According to this theory, Sarah needed a change of scenery after the death of her husband and built in order to keep her mind occupied and off the grief she was feeling.
Looking at the facts, this theory does make sense but fails to explain all the dead-ends in the house.
This theory was given by Historian Mary Jo Ignoffo. According to her, Sarah was devoted to building as she was interested in architecture. According to some of her letters found, construction stopped for months at a time, a fact that is in direct contrast to the legend where the construction went on continuously.
She also claims that the unfinished rooms were a result of an earthquake that occurred in 1906 and damaged the house. Sarah, instead of repairing the damaged areas, chose to shut down construction. Also supporting this theory is the fact that no evidence has been found which proves that Sarah ever contacted with spirits.
The Hotspots in the house.
(i) The Blue Room
Also called the sance room, it is said that Sarah used to communicate the good spirits for guidance with building in this room. Organ music playing, cold spots and dizziness are reported here.
(ii) The bedroom
Some of the visitors report seeing Sarah in her bedroom, the place where the heiress finally died in 1922.
(iii) The Basement
People report seeing the ghost of the old caretaker, Clive, pushing a wheel barrel in here.
Sarah Winchester died at the age of 83 in 1922. The question remains, was this just the result of a woman filled with grief or were the evil spirits that haunted Sarah Winchester so horrifying that they drove her and perhaps possessed her to build into her death. Guess we'll never know for certain, the answer to this question.