Friday, October 13, 2017 / No comments

(Not So) Ghostly Misadventures at the Winchester Mystery House!

That Weird Girl Life
It may seem a little weird that one of the places I've always wanted to visit since I was a kid was the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. But really, what would you expect from the girl who stumbled upon the supernatural section in her local library when she was in elementary school and just become fascinated about the very idea of if ghosts truly exist or not. Last December, my ghost-loving dreams finally came true: thanks to a visit to see my uncle in northern California, I got to go see my dream house (I don't think I could ever afford to buy a historic landmark/tourist attraction anyway). And it. Was. Incredible!

If you don't know the story of Sarah Winchester, I'm going to give you the cliff notes version: in the 1800's Sarah Winchester married the heir to the Winchester rifles company and after losing her daughter and her husband over the years, according to legend, a medium told a grieving Sarah Winchester that the reason her daughter and husband died was because the ghosts of the people who have been killed by Winchester rifles over the years were haunting her. The medium informed Sarah that the only way to appease these spirits must be to move west and build a house- and keep adding on to the house for the REST OF HER LIFE- for herself and the spirits to live in. And the legend says that the spirit of the victims, the builders who worked on the house, and Sarah Winchester herself, haunt the mansion. Got all that? Great!

The reason why the house is so famous (you know, besides being owned and built by a very rich woman who randomly moved to California and built a giant mansion which she kept building for years until she passed away), is because of it's bizarre architecture. There are doors and staircases that lead to nowhere, windows looking into other rooms, and there's even a the Door to Nowhere that opens to a two story drop outside!

For years people attributed all of these strange architectural designs to the mediums Sarah Winchester consulted about building the house, but most historians now think that was just a crazy rumor that people started about her after her daughter and husband died and she moved out west. Maybe others were jealous of the fortune she was left or just confused about her sudden need to move out to California. As for her crazy architecture... some historians believe that maybe Sarah Winchester was just a bad amateur architect. Maybe she enjoyed designing, but she obviously didn't go to school to study for it, so maybe that's why she designed such strange house plans (I mean, she had enough money for all of the contractors to just agree with what she wanted to do with the house). Plus, there was a large earthquake that damaged the house quite badly (some of the cracks in the walls from the earthquake are still there) and maybe instead of tearing down certain walls and rooms and starting over, she kept adding on to the house- hence the doors and stairs that lead to nowhere. I'm sure the continuous building of the house kept her occupied while she mourned her losses over the years (talk about an expensive coping mechanism!). But the rumors about it being haunted by the ghosts of the victims of the Winchester rifles has stayed and the Winchester Mystery House definitely capitalizes and encourages the thought (in a really fun, entertaining way!).

Yes, it's a tourist attraction, so there's a gift shop, a small pretty courtyard area between the gift shop and the actual house that somewhat reminds me of Disneyland, and some of the tour guides were in 1800's costumes. Our tour guide was totally decked out in a dark purple suit and top hat and was totally chewing the scenery- I've only read that phrase before but had never seen it in a real life situation. (I did that day.) The tour guides definitely try to play a bit of a theatrical part to be more entertaining, especially with the stories of spirits being seen in and around the house, though honestly the tour was interesting enough without one man show of a tour guide (but he really did make the tour pretty humorous and fun).

All in all, I thought it was well worth the trip, and while it wasn't paranormal at all (despite the ghost stories our tour guide told us, he himself just thinks that Sarah Winchester was just a lonely woman who was trying to distract herself from the losses of her husband and young daughter), I had a great time. I would have loved to have taken pictures of the inside of the house, but the tour guide said that we couldn't for legal reason. He mentioned in a hush-hush voice that a movie about Sarah Winchester and the house was in the works and whispered that "Helen Mirren may be involved." To which I replied SIGN ME UP! (And I just checked and it is going to be a movie! Yay! Buying my tickets now!) Though the outside of the house was just as impressive as the inside of the house, and while taking pictures at exactly 3 o'clock in the afternoon may not have produced the best looking pictures, I still think I captured it's strange, odd beauty.

I'd absolutely go back to visit, especially around Halloween time or at least at night. I know they offer more extensive tours, so maybe they do offer more of a ghostly tour. You never know who may be walking those spooky halls at night....

That Weird Girl Life
The sign let us know that we were in the right place!

That Weird Girl Life
Okay, I know it's kind of weird to take a picture of stained glass/mosaic door-shutter things that are on either side of the bathroom entrance, but look how pretty they are! This was in the courtyard behind the gift shop/restaurant, which was such a pretty area filled with trees, string lights hanging overheard. Of course I tried to take pictures of the courtyard but they turned out horribly. That's basically just my life...

That Weird Girl Life
Since I wasn't able to take pictures inside, I had to settle for taking pictures of the grounds. Which were honestly stunning and is it weird to want to get married there? Think of the wedding pictures! Also, do you notice that open door on the second floor...?

That Weird Girl Life
Yep, that would be the Door to Nowhere! Of course, the inside is roped off before you can even get close to the door, but the view from near the door made my heart stop. I may not be afraid of heights, but I am positively scared of falling and going SPLAT.

That Weird Girl Life
I mean, look how gorgeous this fountain is. There are stone frogs spouting water! If that doesn't say class, than I don't know what else does.

That Weird Girl Life
I visited in December so of course the house was all decked out in garland, ornaments, and Christmas trees, which really kind of took away from that creepy vibe they try to advertise but instead made it so lovely looking and cozy. At least from the outside!

That Weird Girl Life
Has someone made a dollhouse version of the Winchester Mystery House? Because I want one now.

That Weird Girl Life
The house looks pretty in its Christmas mode, but I wonder what they do for Halloween. Do you think it looks like Disneyland during Halloween? Do they have pumpkins in the gardens and a Jack Skellington dressed as Santa on the roof trying to slide down one of the house's many chimneys? (I'm sure they'd have to use non-Disney Christmas movie characters, but I think the house would like super spooky with Halloween decor!)

That Weird Girl Life
I love that the people in charge of the house have a sense of humor. I was just delighted with this 13 topiary. Creepy and kitschy!

That Weird Girl Life
Like, really: imagine your wedding taking place here. With the fountains babbling (or do brooks babble? I think fountains can babble too) in the background and the sounds of rifle victims moaning from the world between the living and the dead... it sounds like a beautiful wedding. I'm tearing up as I type this, honestly.

That Weird Girl Life
Can you imagine if this was your front door? I bet if kids trick or treated at the Winchester House, Sarah would have definitely have given out full size candy bars (girl could afford it!).

That Weird Girl Life
I would have never had any dates as a teen if my front door had looked like that. Guys would have been terrified to ring that doorbell. (So good thing I didn't really date as a teen! *ba-dum-tissss!*)

That Weird Girl Life
Prepare yourself: lots of pictures of the front of the Winchester Mystery House are coming. (Hmm...not quite as catchy as "winter is coming." Maybe if Jon Snow/Kit Harington said it...)

That Weird Girl Life
MY.

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DREAM.

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HOUSE!!!!!

That Weird Girl Life
Even the back of the house is pretty! That gazebo area would also be lovely for some wedding photos...

That Weird Girl Life
I have a soft spot for topiary trees/shrubs/plants. I just think it's so fun and I got super excited when I saw this topiary lady that was in the process of growing. I'm sure she'll look lovely covered in leaves! (Weirdest sentence I've ever written)

That Weird Girl Life
Pretty plants! I don't think that's a historically accurate garden hose though...

That Weird Girl Life
This was the old timey shooting range game! (With, I'm assuming, Winchester rifle replicas) It was an entire room filled with random, antique tchotckes, furniture, and just so much stuff. I loved it and I think it's my new decor aesthetic.

That Weird Girl Life
I didn't play the shooting game (not my style), but I just admired the creepy decor and the eerie music they played in the background. For sure some of these toys (including THAT doll) come to life at night. I know it.

That Weird Girl Life
I don't trust that dress form in the wedding dress. Not. At. All.

🏡

I hope you enjoyed my experience at the Winchester Mystery House! It may not have been as spooky and goosebump-inducing as I would have liked, but it was really fun and very interesting. The architecture is beautiful in a strange way, and it's a great way to learn some information about the early days of San Jose, CA, the history of Sarah Winchester and the maybe dark history the house holds (it probably doesn't, but it's fun to imagine!) If you want to learn more about the house (you know, because I'm not a historian and other people can explain it so much better and in a much more riveting way), you can check out the Winchester Mystery House's website to learn more! (And there is so much more that I didn't include!)

Let me know what you thought of my visit! Have you ever visiting the Winchester Mystery House? Do you have any interest to? Do you think it's haunted? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay Weird,
Emily

Interested in seeing where else I've traveled? (Some places more scary than others!) I have a whole bunch of my blog posts over here ready for you to read!


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