The Winchester Mansion. Constructed nonstop for thirty-eight years, in which the building ceased at the time of Sarah's death. Many rumors circulate around the reasoning of why the mansion was constructed. From Sarah being supposedly a Freemason, to conversing with spirits, to just being plain mad. In this article, we will look at all aspects of the rumors and such.
Located in San Jose, California, the Winchester Mansion was once the home of Sarah Winchester, the wife and heir to her husbands, William Winchester, Winchester rifle fortune. William held the position of treasurer to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, owned by his father Oliver Winchester, and remained in the position until his death.
Sarah was born Sarah Lockwood Pardee in 1837, to Leonard and Sarah Pardee. Leonard was a carriage manufacturer. Sarah was known as the Belle of New Haven and she had a good upbringing. The best schools, musical abilities, and the ableness to speak four different languages. On September 30, 1862 in New Haven, Conneticut, she was wed to William Winchester. The couple had one daughter, Annie Pardee Winchester, but she died a few weeks later on July 25th. After that, they did not have any more children.
William's father Oliver died in 1880, and his sons death followed a year later on March 1st 1881. His death was caused by tuberculosis.
One of the more common rumors state that Sarah felt that her family was cursed. So she sought out the help of numerous spiritualists, one of whom was The Boston Medium. This supposed psychic told her that the rifle fortune she inherited was cursed by the victims that had been killed by the Winchester Repeating Rifle. The medium told her that she should move out west to build a structure that could house herself and the spirits. She was also warned that if she ever stopped building, the angry spirits would kill her. In 1884, Sarah moved to an unfinished farmhouse in Santa Clara Valley, with her sister and niece. There the renovations began, until it reached over seven stories high.
After the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, Sarah was trapped in her bedroom for several hours. Upon her rescue, she told the construction workers to cease building on the front of her house, and board up several rooms. This left most of them unfinished. Rumors say that she believed that the spirits were angry because she spent so much time on decorating and finishing the front. Others say that the spirits were angry because the house was almost finished. Instead, she instructed workers to add on new rooms to the house and renovate others. Her new home was in Atherton, California after the earthquake until her death.
On September 5th, 1922, Sarah died in her sleep from heart failure. She was 82. After her death, the construction ceased completely. She was buried in the Alto Mesa Cemetery, until they were tranferred, along with her sisters to the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Conneticut. She was buried next to her infant child and her husband.
Five months after her death, the house was auctioned and turned into a haunted attraction.
Inside the Home
The constant construction of the house left it large and hard to navigate, most of the staff needed maps to get around the hard to navigate structure.
Before the 1906 earthquake, the house had been seven stories high, but today it is only four stories. The house is predominantly made of redwood, as Mrs. Winchester preferred the wood; however, she disliked the look of it. She therefore demanded that a faux grain and stain be applied. This is why almost all the wood in the home is covered. Approximately 20,500 US gallons (78,000l) of paint were required to paint the house. The home itself is built using a floating foundation that is believed to have saved it from total collapse in the 1906 earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. This type of construction allows the home to shift freely, as it is not completely attached to its brick base. There are roughly 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms (one completed and one unfinished) as well as 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements and three elevators. Winchester's property was about 162 acres (66ha) at one time, but the estate has since been reduced to 4.5 acres (1.8ha) the minimum necessary to contain the house and nearby outbuildings. It has gold and silver chandeliers and hand-inlaid parquet floors and trim. There are doors and stairways that lead nowhere and a vast array of colors and materials. Due to Mrs Winchester's debilitating arthritis, special "easy riser" stairways were installed as a replacement for her original steep construction. This allowed her to move about her home freely as she was only able to raise her feet a few inches high.
The home's conveniences were rare at the time of its construction. These included steam and forced-air heating, modern indoor toilets and plumbing, push-button gas lights, Mrs Winchester's personal (and only) hot shower from indoor plumbing. There are also three elevators, one of which was powered by a rare horizontal hydraulic elevator piston. Most elevator pistons are vertical, as this takes up less space, but to improve its function, she discarded the norm and included this model for its function over fashion. Though the home was built with the strangest of intentions, Mrs. Winchester never skimped on the many bizarre adornments that she believed contributed to its architectural beauty. Many of the stained glass windows were created by the Tiffany company. Some were designed specifically for her, and others by her, including the renowned "spider web" window. This piece features her favorite shape, the spider's web, and features repetition of the number thirteen, which was one of her preoccupations. This window is not installed, but rather featured in the so-called "$25,000 storage room". The room is so named because its contents were originally appraised at a value of $25,000. Their value today is inestimable, but thought to be at least ten times that. A second famed window was designed by Tiffany himself for Mrs Winchester. This window was carefully designed so that when the light hits the crystals just so, the room will be filled with thousands of rainbow prisms. However, due to the poor placement of the piece, this will never be seen. It is located in a room with no direct light and is built facing a wall.
Why the House was Built According Masonic Rumors
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