Though some say that this mysterious house is nothing more than the product of an eccentric woman’s mind, others say that the very spirits that Sarah tried to please with the constant building, remain in residence.
Over the years, staff and visitors have reported a number of strange encounters including hearing footsteps when no one is present, banging doors, mysterious voices, and the sounds of someone or something running across the rooftops.
Others have witnessed doorknobs that turn by themselves, strange bobbing lights throughout the building, and windows that bang so hard they shatter. Cold spots are often felt by visitors in various areas of the large mansion.
Over the years, dozens of psychics have visited the house and most have come away convinced that spirits, including that of Sarah Winchester, still wander the place.
One ghost that is said to linger is that of a handyman that continues to repair a fireplace in the Grand ballroom. The black-haired man has often been seen pushing a spectral wheelbarrow or working on the fireplace. Others have reported feeling the “presence” of someone or something in the ballroom. The elegant gold and silver chandelier in the grand ballroom swings by itself on occasion. This elegant room was built almost entirely without nails, at a cost of over $9,000 at the time (about $125,600 in today’s currency.) The exquisite ballroom features walls and a parquet floor made of six hardwoods – mahogany, teak, maple, rosewood, oak, and white ash.
Located in the front portion of the house, the Daisy Bedroom, called such because of the floral motif in the stained-glass windows, is also said to be haunted. It was here that Mrs. Winchester was trapped during the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Staff and visitors have heard heavy sighs coming from this room, as well as reporting seeing a dark figure, reporting camera malfunctions, and photos that feature a strange white rippling mass.
The Hall of Fires, called so because of several fireplaces, is also a hotbed for spiritual activity. On one occasion, a man who was working on a restoration project, was on a ladder when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to find no one there. When he turned back to his task, he felt a hand pressing hard against his back. When he turned again to find no one, he quickly left the room to find another project to work on.
Another spirit is said to reside in the basement. Known as Clyde, he appears near the old coal chute.
Outside on the grounds one staff member reported seeing a small woman dressed in black, who was thought to be none other than Sarah Winchester, herself. The front yard also gives visitors a vantage point of a second-story window, where a translucent bushy-haired female spirit has been spotted.
Tour guides allegedly try their best to avoid the third floor corridors at night because the sounds of footsteps and voices are often heard.
Named one of the “Most Haunted Places in the World” by Time magazine, San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House has been the site of many a spectral sighting, drawing international paranormal investigators and psychics.
Winchester Mystery House
525 S Winchester Boulevard
San Jose, California 95128
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated March 2019.
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