Winchester’s mystery house has the reputation of being the house that the spirit helped build, the house that kept building for 38 years, it’s been said that it never stopped building, and Sarah Winchester, the house’s owner, even paid three times the normal amount to keep the work going.

winchester mystery house

Some argue that Sarah was simply trying to fill the void left by the deaths of her child, husband, and father-in-law all within a few years. The Winchester house, on the other hand, never stopped growing over the course of nearly four decades. Since its construction in 1884, the mansion has been said to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles.

Winchester House is named after Sarah Winchester

Sarah Lockwood Winchester, the wife of William Winchester, whose family created the Winchester rifle that was termed as “the gun that won the west,” designed the Winchester mystery house.

In a matter of five years Sarah lost her child, husband and father, she was devastated and contacted a medium, looking for solace or closure, but instead she was given a chilling warning. 

Through the medium, William told her that the tragedies on her family were a result of the family invention, the Winchester rifle, and the people who were killed by it. Her family was cursed and in order to protect herself, she has to move to the west and build a house that would never stop building.

The medium told her that the good spirits will help her build the house, they will tell her what to build. But there was just one catch, If you continue building you will live, stop, and you will die,“ the construction on the house should never stop. 

The construction of the house didn’t stop for 38 years 

In 1886, Sarah Winchester purchased an eight room farmhouse in San Jose, California, and began to build a house as told by the medium.  She employed workers and even paid them three times to continue working, days and night, seven days a week for 38 years. 

The house was supposed to confuse the spirits

The construction only stopped on September 5, 1922, because the mastermind behind the bizarre house died of heart failure in her sleep. Hearing the news of Sarah’s death, the carpenters left the half hammered nails protruding from walls, sounds of those nails falling to the ground could still be heard. 

Bizarre architectural approach 

The origin of the house might be the only reason to explain why the house is filled with architectural oddities, Sarah commanded her builders to include the buildings with trap doors, doors that open outside the house on the second floor, staircases that lead to nowhere.

Some windows that open on to another floors. It was later concluded that Sarah built the house in a certain way to fool the spirits that were haunting her, and giving her enough time to get out of the house. 

An earthquake led to collapse of 3 stories

The great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 caused three floors of the then seven-story house to collapse. A postcard from 1900 depicts a tower that was later destroyed by the natural disaster. That tower, as well as several other rooms destroyed in the disaster, were never rebuilt, but were instead cordoned off.


Sarah, on the other hand, was safe but confined to the Daisy Bedroom, so named because of the floral motif in its windows. Her staff had to dig her out because the entrance was blocked by rubble. In 1906 due to an Earthquake, the Winchester house that had seven stories was left with only four stories.

 Even though Sarah Winchester had no one, she never lived alone in the house 

There is only one known picture of the widow Winchester, and it was taken undercover. She was never alone, despite her reclusiveness. She had 18 servants, 18 gardeners, and a construction team on the grounds at all times. Sarah met with the foreman every morning to discuss the ever-changing building plans. And it’s said that she went to the Séance Room every night to consult with the spirits, who weighed in on the unusual design of the house.

Fascination with number 13

Sarah was enthralled by the number 13. Her architecturally designed home had 13 bathrooms but only one shower; the 13th bathroom has 13 windows and the grand staircase has 13 steps. The Winchester house has 52 skylights in total, 13 palm trees in the driveway, 13 drain holes in one sink, and 13 ceiling panels, 13 windows, and 13 panes in a glass window with 13 st.

Sarah was certainly ahead of time 

With three elevators, an annunciator, window knobs to open shutters from the inside that later became very popular, carbide gas lights, communication pipes that go all the way up to the fourth floor to help her communicate with her servants, and some interior design, Sarah’s architecture was certainly ahead of its time.

Some believe she was crazy

Others believe Sarah was frenzied with activity to cope with her grief, or that she was simply “crazy.” Winchester Mystery House historian Janan Boehme, on the other hand, paints a happier picture, imagining that the constant renovations reminded Sarah of the good times when she and William built their New Haven home together.

“I believe Sarah was attempting to replicate that experience by doing something they both enjoyed,” Boehme told the Los Angeles Times. She also suspects Sarah was just an ardent philanthropist, albeit an eccentric one, who used her family fortune to purposefully employ the San Jose community. “She had a social conscience and she did try to give back,” Boehme said, referring to the hospital Sarah named after her husband. “This house was her most important social work of all.”

She never slept in the same bedroom consecutive day

Sarah used to sleep in one of her 40 bedrooms after performing seances, one night in each, which confused her servants, so she introduced this annunciator, which gives her servants a brief idea of who she is and where they can find her.

Sarah’s doorbells resembled buttons and displayed the number on an annunciator, which was unusual in the early 1900s.

The house had 2000 doors 

The Winchester House was originally seven stories tall with over 500 rooms, but an earthquake reduced it to four stories and only 161 rooms, with the most recent room discovered in October 2016. There are 2000 doors and 10,000 windows in the house, as well as 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, six kitchens, three elevators, thirteen bathrooms with only one shower, and thirteen coat hooks in the seance room.

Séance Room

Sarah also had a seance room, which she could only enter at midnight to communicate with the good spirits. A bell was rung outside the Winchester House at midnight to summon the spirits, and again at 2 o’clock to tell the spirits to leave. No one was permitted to enter the seance room, which had only one way to enter but three ways to exit, one of which was disguised as a closet and the other simply dropped at the kitchen sink below.

winchester mystery house seance room
winchester mystery house seance room

According to legend, good spirits would tell her about the strange architecture of the house, which could explain why some staircases lead to the ceiling rather than the upper floor, why there is a door to nowhere, and why some doors lead to brick walls. The unusual design of the Winchester house was intended to aid her in evading the haunting ghosts.

Winchester movie

Sarah died of heart failure in 1922, but her life was never peaceful; the deaths of family members kept her grieving for the rest of her life, as did the fact that she had to keep building The Winchester house to keep the spirits at bay.

When the workers learned of Sarah’s death, they halted construction, leaving nails halfway through the doors and walls, which is why some people claim to hear nails dropping to the floor, strange voices and footsteps, and see the ghost or spirits, both male and female, sometimes children, outside or inside Winchester House.

Now that you’ve read about the story of Winchester mystery house, read about the 8 Feet Tall Japanese Urban Legend With Most Scary Noise – Hachishakusama.