Thursday, October 28, 2010

Home for those Shot by a Winchester

What would you do if you had $20,000,000 and all the time to spare to get over the despair of losing your daughter and husband? 

Earlier this year My  Mann and I visited this house and gardens.

It is the most amazing, bizarre, Victorian house.  

The workmanship  is exquisite and no expense was spared.  

The home belonged to Mrs. Winchester, whose husband was the son of the manufacturer of the Winchester repeating rifle.  

She never recuperated from losing her infant daughter to death, then to have her husband die early due to tuberculosis proved to be too much for her.   She approached a spiritualist who medium who explained that she was being haunted by spirits of those killed by the Winchester repeating rifle and that was the reason for the deaths of her daughter and husband.  

The medium claimed that the way to appease these spirits was to build a house for them. As long as construction did not cease she would be safe. So began the 18 year 24/7 constructing, remodeling, demolishing and rebuilding over and over again.

The house began when she purchased a modest 8 room home then she began an addition to that house,

  until it grew into a 7-story mansion.

With 10,000 windows including beautiful Tiffany stained glass.

Mrs. Winchester's eccentricities manifest themselves all over the house such as staircases that end at the ceiling or another that descends 7 steps and then rises 11.  There are 47 staircases in the house.  As years progressed she had a set of switchback stairs with 2" risers making it easier on her arthritis to use.

A beautiful front entry and door 

that were never used.

You could find yourself looking over the banister to find one of six kitchens below you and a huge skylight above you. 

It is estimated that between 500 to 600 rooms had been built, remodeled and demolished leaving 160 when construction ended.  Should you go through one of the 2,000 doors mistakenly thinking you are about to enter another room. . .

beware.  Your step may prove hazardous.  The door may have gone to one of those rooms that had once been there or was to be a future room.

Mrs. Winchester was also ingenious and ahead of her times.  She devised a car wash that looks very similar to those do it yourself car washes around town where the hose comes from the ceiling and swivels around the vehicle. 

And an industrious entrepreneur.  She had the fruit from her orchards dried in a building she had designed as a special dehydrator and then shipped to Europe.  

Then one day, 18 years later, Mrs. Winchester died. The construction ceased. All was quiet.


  1. Gosh, what an amazing house, and an amazing story behind it. That poor woman! But what an interesting place to visit x

  2. I've always thought it was an amazing story. But I never got around to seeing the house. I love the pics!

  3. Reminds me of Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands. Boldt stopped construction in 1904 when his wife died suddenly. Now a tourist attraction, the family has stipulated that it cannot turn a profit, cannot ever be finished (beyond 95%), and no one can ever stay over night.