Site Investigation Report

Names & Aliases
Winchester Mystery House (Primary)
525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128 Primary
Type: museum   Use: Current   Period: Roaring Twenties (1920s)   Style: none defined   Dates (from/to): 1923 - open   Related Features: none defined
Type: single dwelling   Use: Historic   Period: Gilded Age (1869 - 1896)   Style: Victorian   Dates (from/to): 1884 - 1922   Related Features: none defined
Property Ownership
Filed Under
spirits (supernatural beings)
rich people
social outcasts

Investigator's Field Report

General Description

In this episode, our Place of Legend is the Winchester Mystery House just south of San Jose, California, which has been a popular and spooky tourist attraction since it opened to the public in 1923. By now the story is familiar to the thousands of visitors who experience the otherworldly thrill of exploring its labyrinthine halls, staircases that bizarrely lead to nowhere, hidden compartments, and, of course, a closed chamber in the middle of the sprawling mansion that is billed as the “Séance Room.” Some guides report that after dark, long after closing time, they have heard eerie footsteps approaching down the Victorian mansion’s countless hallways and disembodied voices whispering unrecognizable names.

The mysterious personality behind this house of fright was Sarah L. Winchester, a wealthy eastern heiress who came to the Santa Clara Valley of California to escape a life of grief and sadness that she had left behind in Connecticut. Only rarely appearing in public, and even then dressed entirely in black with a widow’s veil covering her face, Sarah Winchester is said to have harbored a bizarre premonition that if she ever stopped designing and expanding her mansion, she would die.

But here is the scariest part of the story: The spirits, the curse, and never-ending hauntings of the famous mansion are all part of a carefully constructed, money-making tall-tale. But that is not to say that the Winchester Mystery House has no historical value. Its existence as a tourist attraction was a brilliant stroke of imagination and public promotion. In fact, the story we’re about to tell is about how the Winchester Mystery House became the model for “haunted houses” at amusement parks and Halloween “fright houses” all over the United States.

Case File Contents

Images, Books, Documents & Other Media
Episode 6: Winchester Mystery House (Sound, is referred to in / refers to)

Cross-References to Related Investigations

Related Sites
Related Historical Events
The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake (natural disasters, was made significant by / contributed to the significance of)
Related Persons of Interest
Sarah Lockwood Winchester (Architect/Designer, is created by / created)