Behind this flap you'll find the truly eerie tale of a woman so tormented by the ghosts of her family's past that she devoted her life to escaping them by altering the very house she lived in!
This, friends, is Sarah Winchester:
Does the last name sound familiar to you? If you're a God-fearin', red-blooded rootin'-tootin' rifle-shootin' American, it should! Sarah Winchester is the wife of William Wirt Winchester, of the Winchester Repeating Arms family name, manufacturers of high-velocity death for centuries!
Legend has it that after the deaths of her daughter Annie in 1866 and husband Willie in 1881, mournful Sarah sought comfort in the visions of a Medium. This shadowy Medium informed the Widow Winchester of a curse on the Winchester family name, due to the many cemetery plots filled with those unfortunate enough to have been the focal point of a Winchester gun barrel. "Thousands of people have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking vengeance," The Medium warned Sarah, no doubt while holding her hand over a candelit table shrouded in muslin cloth!
Now, here's where the history becomes a bit muddy, and as it happens here at freakStomp Novelties we specialize in muddy histories...The Medium may or may not have then told Sarah she had to travel West, where:
"You must build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon, too. You can never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live. Stop and you will die."
Is it true? Did this clairvoyant indeed pass these grave instructions on to a guilt-stricken Sarah? Did such a ghostly vision of the future appear in her mind? Does it matter? No! We here at freakStomp Novelties live by the saying "If it sounds true, and feels true, it must be a lie -but lies are always more interesting, anyway."
The fact remains that Sarah did pull up stakes and head West to San Jose, California, where she began construction on what is known today as the Winchester Mystery House. Construction went on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of every year for 38 years, until Sarah's soul shot like a bullet into the void on September 5th, 1922.
Before the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the Winchester House grew to seven stories tall! Now it stands at four. The house and outer buildings spread across 4.5 acres, giving plenty of leg room to your average spectre. Sarah used her 50% ownership in Winchester Arms, as well as her $20 Million Dollar inheritance, to fund the endless construction of this winding, maze-like spirit trap.
Marvel at these astonishing facts about this unusual abode:
- There are 160 rooms, with 40 bedrooms, and 2 ballrooms...for those occasions when the bullet-riddled corpses rise from their graves and wish to boogie down
- 2 basements, enough to hide all those damp, musty secrets and skeletons
- 47 fireplaces, to keep it hotter than Hell
- 17 chimneys, which must have frustrated Santa to no end
- 5 Kitchens, for the dead constantly hunger
- 40 staircases, many of which lead nowhere, some of which lead into the ceiling
- 52 skylights
- 2000 oddly-shaped cupboards, some as small as an inch deep
- 10,000 windows
- 950 doors, some of which open into solid walls
- 3 elevators
- 1 shower
20,ooo gallons of paint were required to cover the expanse. By the time the last section was finished, the painters had to start back over from the beginning! Sarah considered the number 13 and Spider Webs to both be lucky symbols, so you'll find these themes throughout the house (coat hooks are always in sets of 13, a chandelier has 13 candleholders, there is a spider-web patterned Tiffany Glass window set with 13 colored stones).
Triggered by guilt, fired by compulsion, Sarah played Russian Roulette with carpentry for the rest of her life! Shoot, leading those haunts on a snipe hunt must have been a blast!
As you leave for today and exit into the main carnival thoroughfair, dear audience, keep in mind this sage nugget of wisdom: Guns don't kill people...unless you remember to take the safety off! Lock and load!