Science and critical thinking in the Sacramento Area

Winchester Mansion

November 4th, 2009 by strimmer · 1 Comment

Northern California is a unique place for skeptics. We house several important universities as well as many top scientists and skeptics, facts that we can all be proud of; however, it is also the birth place to a whole lot of woo-woo. I will start documenting some of the more popular phenomena Northern California is known for on this site in future posts. Some of the stories many of you may be familiar with but there may be some that are surprising and new. In the spirit of last weekends Halloween holiday, I will start off by covering Mrs. Sarah Winchester’s mansion.

The Winchester mansion began construction in 1884 on more than 160 acres of property in what was at the time a more rural setting in the South Bay. The 160 bedroom mansion now sits on only 4 acres in the middle of San Jose and more commonly called the Winchester Mystery House. Sarah Winchester was the widow of William Winchester who amassed a fortune as the son of Oliver Winchester, inventor of the repeating rifle. There are several origin myths as to why she felt the inspiration to move out West from New England and have her house continuously expanded on until her death in 1922. The majority of these myths revolve around her being so saddened by the death of William and her daughter that she felt the need to consult a mystic/”psychic”. It is not known what the mystic told Mrs. Winchester exactly but the majority of the accounts are similar to the story I first heard, that the “spirits” of those killed by the popular Winchester firearms were angry with the family and wished to do harm to them. The Winchester family had a curse on them  and the early passing of Sarah’s husband and daughter were do to this curse. The mystic then continued that she must run away from these spirits. The cross country move and the constant construction, which includes doors that open into walls and stairs that lead into the ceiling, were in an attempt to lose the ghosts that were chasing her. This unusual story is lent further credence with the fact that Sarah Winchester slept in a different room of the house every night.

It can not be debated that this house and the story behind it is truly an interesting mystery, even though it my be steeped in anecdotal lore and woo-woo; moreover, what further impresses me about the Winchester Mystery House is that the current party in charge of running its operations do not hype up the mansion as a supernatural hot spot. Nowhere on the website can it be found that there are claims that the mansion is haunted or has ever been. Looking elsewhere on the other hand will lead you to a plethora of pseudoscientific information on the house. With past visitors as well as tour guides alike giving anecdotal accounts of “weird” things happening, most of which include experiencing cold spots or having eerie feelings. It also has its fair share of ghost stories, from old maintenance workers, Sarah Winchester herself, and many others. Many lists give the Winchester Mystery House top honors as the most haunted location in the world. All of these accounts make the fact all more impressive that those running the Mystery House itself do not tout such superstitious activities credited with the mansion.

Tags: Northern California · Paranormal · Shane

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Winchester Mansion – Follow Up // Feb 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    [...] few months ago I wrote an article on the Winchester Mansion in San Jose California. It was the first article in a series I will be doing on the more popular [...]

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