Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is just that; a mystery. Why would Sarah Winchester have the house built, adjusted, and rebuilt constantly between 1884 and 1922? Was she a genius? Or was Sarah Winchester under the influence of the spirits it is said she was terrified of? Let’s explore Sarah and her mystery house and decide from there.

Sarah Pardee

Sarah Winchester was born Sarah Pardee in September 1839, in New Haven, Connecticut. Sarah grew into a charming, multi-lingual, musically talented that was a petite beauty of only 4’10” tall. Sarah was bred, born, and raised in New Haven.

William Wirt Winchester

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Museum of History San Jose

William Winchester was also from New Haven, Connecticut. William’s father was a shirt manufacturer who took over the assets of a firm that made Volcanic Repeater firearms in 1857. In 1860 the company created the Henry Rifle that averaged one shot every three seconds. The Henry Rifle was a favourite among the Northern troops during the American Civil War.

Two Become One

Sarah Pardee and William Wirt Winchester were united in marriage on September 30, 1862, in New Haven. They were living a life of financial stability due to the success and popularity of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company at the height of the Civil War.

The Winchester’s had a daughter named Annie Pardee Winchester on July 15, 1866. Unfortunately, Annie was not a healthy baby and she passed away on July 24, 1866. The death threw Sarah Winchester into a deep depressive despair that robbed her of the next ten years of her life. Sarah just wasn’t her usual self and she and William did not have any more children. As Sarah emerged from her dark depression, William contracted Tuberculosis. William would pass away five years later of TB on March 7, 1881. William’s death left Sarah distraught again and she would wear Victorian mourning dresses and veils for the rest of her life.


When William died in 1881, Sarah inherited over $20 million plus 48.9% of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and an income of $1,000 per day. But as they say, money cannot buy happiness.

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Winchester Mystery House

The Mysterious Story of Sarah Winchester

The tour guides at the Winchester Mystery House tell guests that after the death of  William Wirt Winchester, Sarah sought the guidance of a Spiritualist Medium. It is reported that the Medium told Sarah that the Winchester family was cursed and the spirits killed by Winchester guns were seeking revenge against her. The Medium reportedly told Sarah to “move towards the setting sun, and to build a house continually for if she stopped construction she would die.”

As the story goes, Sarah sold her home in New Haven and moved to California. When Sarah reached the Santa Clara Valley in 1884 she found a 6 room house that was being built for a Dr. Caldwell. Sarah convinced the doctor to sell the house and the surrounding 162 acres to her and after the sale took place she threw out all of the building plans.

The Winchester Mystery House

For 36 years Sarah Winchester kept 22 carpenters at work building her home 24 hours a day. Sarah paid the carpenters well and was continually ordering building materials from all over the United States and in some cases, the world, so much so that she had her own set of railway tracks running to the building site. The carpenters would build, demolish, alter, and rebuild one section of the house after another all day, every day. (2017,

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Sarah Winchester would meet with the construction foreman every morning and give him the building plans she drew up overnight. It is reported that Sarah would spend a lot of time in the “seance room” at the centre of the house every evening. It was in the “seance room” that she came up with her building plans, most of which were nonsensical. It is reported by the current day tour guides at the Winchester Mystery House that Sarah received the building plans from the spirits within the house.

Over time the Winchester Mystery House grew to be seven stories tall, it contained three elevators, 47 fireplaces, staircases that lead nowhere, a blind chimney, closet doors that open to walls, trap doors, double-back hallways, skylights stacked upon each other, doors that open to steep drops out to the lawn, bathrooms with glass doors, and banisters that are upside down.

Sarah Winchester liked the number 13. So much so that most of the windows in the house have 13 panes of glass, walls contain 13 panels, the greenhouse has 13 cupolas, some staircases have 13 steps, some rooms have 13 windows, and many floors have 13 sections. One exception is the 42 steps of a staircase that only goes up nine feet, two inches at a time.

The Winchester Mystery House offers guided tours of the sprawling maze of a house.  Around Halloween time they also offer Hall’ween Candlelight Tours. Click here to learn more.

Winchester The House That Ghosts Built

Yay, a movie about Sarah Winchester and here mystery house!

Click here to buy on Amazon.

A Different Theory

The tour guides at the Winchester Mystery House will tell their guests about Sarah Winchester and the ghostly reasons for the strange house she had built. That reason has been explained above. Richard Allan Wagner has written about his theory of what drove the continuous construction of the Winchester Mansion.

On Mr. Wagner claims that all the folklore about Sarah Winchester has been fabricated to make money. Mr. Wagner argues that Sarah was a Rosicrucian and a Freemason and that her beliefs drove the strange construction that was dominated by the number 13. Click here to learn more about Rosicrucian.

It is easy to argue that stories of folklore make money in this situation. I am not convinced that Sarah Winchester was not led by either spirits or spiritualism when having her amazing, huge, and confusing mansion built. Something motivated Sarah to continue with construction for those 36 years. Anyone who has lived through even a small renovation should agree that Sarah was a very motivated and determined lady.

We hope that you have enjoyed this post and that we have shared information that is new to you. Let us know what you would like to learn about next. Have you been to the Winchester Mystery House? If so, please share your experience and impressions with us.


The Other Half


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Is There a Ghost in my House?

One of the most unnerving and scary experiences you can have is when you are asking the question “is there a ghost in my house?” I know there are people that will immediately believe your home is haunted while others will be very skeptical. But if you are truly curious or concerned about your home being haunted I invite you to read on to learn what you should do and what steps you can take to rid yourself of the roommate that doesn’t help with the rent or mortgage. We are here to help you figure out an answer to the question “Do I have a ghost in my house?”

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Was That Bump in the Night a Ghost or Bad Plumbing? Do I have A Ghost In My House?

First of all, we are going to delve into the signs that your house has a ghost resident. If you are searching the internet to see if your house is haunted then you must have some suspicions.  Stephen Wagner has written an article entitled, 16 Signs That Your House is Haunted, for where he lists the signs of different types of hauntings that one may experience. We will discover part of that list in this article and I will add my own insights to help you determine if you need to seek further help to evict your ghost.

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Do I have a ghost in my house

According to Stephen Wagner the signs of a “typical haunting” are:

Unexplained noises– such as footsteps, scratching sounds, knocking, and the sound of items dropping. I have lived in a home with phantom footsteps and it was a bit unnerving but I was not scared of the spirit, I actually thought it was a friendly spirit who did not need a lot of attention and it was not annoying. If I heard knocking from inside the walls I would get a plumber in to look at the pipes. My sister once lived in a large ranch-style home and you would hear the water coming through the pipes from the basement and the length of the house when you start to run the bath or shower. It was funny sounding but knowing what caused the sound took any fear away. Obviously, if you are hearing scratching sounds the first thing to do is check for any trees outside the home that may be scratching the house when the wind blows. If the scratching is not from trees then maybe you have a rodent problem. I do believe that unexplained noises can signal a ghost presence but make sure you investigate the alternatives before calling in any experts.

Lights turning on and off– Stephen says that these happenings are rarely witnessed by the homeowner, instead, the owner will notice that lights, or televisions, or radios are turned on after they know they turned those devices off. Lights can flicker due to electrical shorts, and the same for any electronic devices. If a short has been ruled out then you can take the turning on and off of lights or devices as a sign of a spirit. I have a friend who lived in Military Housing, known as PMQ’s up here, with her husband when they experienced lights going on and off by themselves and changes in the setting of the thermostat that neither of them had done. They made friends with the spirit and dealt with the little tricks it liked to play. They soon moved to a house of their own and after spending all day moving and unpacking they sat down with her adult children to eat supper. Sure enough, the dining-room chandelier turned off and then on by itself. My friend said out loud, ” That’s enough, Little Fingers, you don’t live here and you need to go back where you came from.” That was the only incident they experienced and it is assumed that Little Fingers went back to the PMQ.

Is There a Ghost in my House?
Amityville Horror House

Items disappearing and reappearing– “This is known as the Disappearing Object Phenomenon (DOP) or the borrower’s phenomenon, and it’s the familiar experience of not being able to find a regularly used item- say, your set of car keys- which you believe you placed in a spot you routinely place them. But they’re gone and you look high and low for them with no success. Sometime later, the keys are found- in exactly the place you normally put them.” (2017, S. Wagner) You know that this is a sign of a spirit entity if the item is found later, sometimes weeks later, in an obvious place that would not have been missed during a search for the missing item, such as on the kitchen island that you walk by several times a day. Anyone can misplace an item but if we search our memory and retrace our steps we will likely locate the item. Unless you have a tricky ghost residing in your house of course.

Unexplained shadows– These shadows are usually seen out of the corner of your eye, they are swift moving and sometimes take the shape of a human. If you are experiencing Shadow Figures that want to be seen and make their presence felt I would suggest that you immediately seek professional paranormal investigators as they are the type of spirits that can affect your health and your personality. You do not want to share your house with them. IMHO.

Are your pets acting weird?– If your dog or cat has started to stare at nothing, with their hair raised, and a growl or a hiss you may just have a ghost in your house. I have written about dogs and their senses here.

Who is there?– If you feel like you are being watched, specifically in certain parts of the house at certain times you may live with a ghost. Or someone has placed a nanny cam in the teddy bear on the shelf.

Now let’s move on to the signs that are considered strong to extreme evidence of a haunting.

Mild psychokinetic phenomena– This is when you SEE the lights go on and off by themselves or you SEE the furniture move or the door close seemingly on their own. If you SEE the door unlock, or the doorknob turns or FEEL someone sit on the side of the bed while you are lying in it…you likely live with a ghost.

Shove off– If you have been pushed, shoved, brushed by, or poked you are living with a spirit entity. There is nothing else in the natural world that could explain the touches. The difficult thing about these experiences is that unless they leave some type of mark on you the touches are hard to prove.

Keep it down– Are your evenings spent listening to murmuring voices, or whispers, or cries of agony? First I must say that I feel very badly for you. How dare the ghosts be annoying. We, humans, need our sleep and no one likes to have someone or something whisper in their ear during the night. The more people that hear the voices the better as paranormal investigators will like to know that the spirits are disturbing more than just one person in the home.

Cold spots– This is a commonly known phenomenon where the temperature in a room feels normal and suddenly just a small portion of the room is dramatically cooler or downright cold. It naturally sends a chill up your spine and the hair rises on your arms. This is a telltale sign that your home is haunted.

Do you smell that?– If you haven’t changed to a new perfume or cologne or taken up cigar smoking but you smell these odours you can blame that freeloader roommate of yours.  Wouldn’t it be great if ghosts only created odours like freshly baked bread and cookies or a full turkey dinner? Ghosts have been known to create pleasant and foul odours.

Now we are going to reach the third plateau of hauntings and move on to the EXTREME signs.

Is There a Ghost in my House?
We were renovating our basement and I saw this. Scared me for a moment.

The extreme signs are also referred to as poltergeist phenomenon and they include:

Moving or levitating objects– This is when dinner plates slide across the table, or photos fly off the walls. Furniture glides forcefully across the floor and crosses hang upside down. I cannot imagine how terrifying it would be to have these occurrences happen in my home. It must be harder to stay than to go. I know I would leave if I was in my right mind and would only return if paranormal investigators accompanied me.

When the bump in the night becomes the bump upon your body– Imagine being punched, slapped, pushed, or scratched so viciously that it leaves marks or bumps on your arms, chest, or legs. No thanks. I wouldn’t even pack. I would just run. Thankfully this type of paranormal experience is very rare.

Apparitions– These are physical manifestations of spirits and can appear as mists, a blob-like shape, or a full-body human form. These are rare but have been known to even appear as solid human forms that disappear while being viewed.

The writing on the wall– The last type of sign that your house is being haunted is unexplained writing on your walls, or handprints, and footprints.  I remember watching a television program about ghosts and hauntings wherein a medium confronted a spirit that had been overbearing and abusive when alive. The medium ended up backed against a bedroom wall and when they took temperature readings of the wall to the left and right of her there was a heat signature in the distinct shape of handprints. I could envision this large, rough man leaning forward to yell in the face of the medium. She felt physical and emotional intimidation within that bedroom.

Now that you know you have a spirit in your home you will want to seek some help. I cannot stress this next point enough; do not attempt to communicate with the spirit yourself.  DO NOT use an Ouija board, or a seance to reach the great beyond. So…if you want to know if Ouija boards are dangerous…click here

Who you gonna call?– Research and contact a local paranormal investigator and ask them for their help. Paranormal investigators will listen to your experiences and bring a variety of equipment along to explore your home. A paranormal investigation team can include a psychic medium, a tech specialist, a historical researcher, and numerous other individuals that will spread throughout your home and see if they can collect any evidence of spiritual entities. They will complete their investigation and reveal any evidence they have collected or communications that the medium has experienced.  Sometimes the conclusion is not what you want to hear, but more often the conclusion is just what you had been suspecting and the advice can change your life. If you are curious about what other people have experienced with their hauntings and investigations, check out The Dead Files.

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If you are experiencing mysterious happenings I encourage you to seek assistance. Do not try to deal with it yourself as you can inadvertently invite in evil entities. Ain’t no one got time for that! Get the help of professionals, someone who takes your concerns seriously. Let us know how it all works out. Take care.

Until next time.


Bill and the Other Half





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