With Halloween just around the corner it’s a time to revisit some of the most haunted houses in the world. And while professional haunted houses start raising their walls from the dead and dusting the cobwebs from prop masks in an attempt to give visitors the best, the true largest haunted house in the world creaks uneasily in the windy autumn breeze. Not only is the Winchester Mystery House one of the largest houses in America, it is also one of the most haunted as well. And if the legends are true this house of many ghosts could be host to hundreds or even thousands of spirits.
The Winchester Mansion has long twisting hallways and an even longer twisted history. There are stairways that rise up from the Earth and misdirect visitors right into the ceiling. Doorways open up on walls bricked over giving visitors the impression that they have been sealed in. Still other doors lead right into thin air outside in an attempt to fool the spirits into falling out onto the lawn below. Indeed the whole house is designed to be as labyrinthine and misleading as possible with trap doors, secret rooms, rooms that have been sealed up without any entrances whatsoever, and mysterious corridors that no doubt are quite an eerie sight at the strike of midnight. And though the house has hundreds of visitors each year, it was once the loneliest place in the world for the woman who had it built. Long into the lonely nights Sarah Winchester could be heard conversing with someone after her husband died. Though the Winchester family fortune had grown considerably since the invention of the rifle that won the west, the rifle came at great cost.
For 38 years the house was constructed under the guidance of Sarah Winchester. And as the workers continuously built 24 hours a day for all those years, they openly asked when the work would be completed. Winchester knew the answer to that question already. She had been warned that the day the construction of her estate stopped she would die. Despite costing her nearly $1,000 a day (a little over $22,000 a day in today’s terms) she knew she couldn’t let the work stop. By the end of it, the house had 160 rooms including enough space to house 40 people. The foundation was reinforced and designed to withstand even the greatest Earthquakes. And in 1906 a great Earthquake did indeed come about. The mansion stood surrounded by wrecked buildings entirely unharmed. It stands to this day.
And now the mansion holds tours and hosts a museum of its own. What began as Sarah Winchester’s terrified grasp at immortality ended as her epitaph – for on September the 22nd, 1922 the hammers fell silent, the saws stopped, and Sarah Winchester passed on leaving behind a beautiful but troubled mansion and a mystery that would last to this day.