I had the strangest dream once that I was wandering through this huge mansion, and I was pursuing or being pursued by an unseen entity. I tried finding my way out of the house but all the stairways would lead to the ceiling, the hallways would stretch on forever, and the doors would keep leading to other rooms, or to nowhere. I woke up before finding out why I was wandering through this house, and I remember waking up very confused. A few days later as I was watching the Travel channel I caught the last 30 mins of a segment on weird places in California and the Winchester Mystery House was featured. I felt a serious case of deja vu at that moment and of course knew that one day I must pay that house a visit!
The Winchester Mystery House is a sprawling Queen Anne style Victorian mansion located in San Jose, California. It is one of two homes in California officially designated as haunted (the other being The Whaley House in San Diego). It’s eccentric floor plan was designed by Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun tycoon William Wirt Winchester. The house served as her residence in the later part of her life, after her husband and child passed away.
Legend has it that Sarah believed she was cursed and haunted by the spirits of those that were killed by the Winchester Rifle, the “gun that won the West,” and the only way to appease the spirits was to constantly expand and build a mansion where their weary souls could rest. It is believed that the labyrinth of trap doors, stairs leading to nowhere, winding hallways, and general nonsensical architecture was meant to confuse the spirits that Sarah believed followed her throughout the house.
If you are driving by, you may miss the house at first glance as it is surrounded by gates and trees. However, as soon as you walk through the gates and wander about the grounds, the commanding exterior of the house draws your undivided attention and it seems that the spirits themselves are beckoning you to come in from the many art glass windows.
There are year round tours you can take that show you different parts of the house and grounds. There are also seasonal tours like the night time Halloween Candlelight Tour, which is the one I took (of course). With a candelabra being the sole source of light, you are led throughout the dark winding corridors of the house with a guide, clad in their Victorian duds, telling you stories of hauntings that occurred in the house. Definitely something that will get you in the Halloween spirit!
So back to my dream: Was I Sarah Winchester trying to find a moment of peace from the spirits that pursued me? Was I one of the wandering and confused spirits that followed Sarah throughout the maze of a house? Was the house in my dream even the Winchester Mystery House? Well, in my dream I was wandering the house during the day, not at night so maybe another visit is in order during daylight hours so that I can better assess the meaning behind this dream. I look forward to it!
Have you ever visited the Winchester Mystery House? What do you think of it, and the legends surrounding it?