The Winchester House
One а the most mysteries and mystical houses on earth is the famous Winchester House, located in California in the USA. This is the most popular place of interest of the small city of San Jose. The place is visited by very many tourists from all over the world. The story of the house is closely connected with the destiny of its owner, Sarah Winchester, whose name before marriage was Sarah Lockwood Pardee.
Sarah Lockwood Pardee was born in Connecticut State approximately in 1840 in a decent family. The girl was well educated, she was known to be smart, beautiful and talented – she played the piano, spoke four languages, loved arts and was erudite. In 1862 Sara married William Winchester, who was a son of the vice-president of the state. The father of her husband was that very owner of the production of famous Winchester guns, which were the decisive factor in the bloody civil war in the USA. Gun trading kept on the persistent income, which allowed a few following generations of the family to live without problems.
The marriage was a rarely lucky union; the couple was happy, rich and young. They enjoyed their love, communicated with people of high society and lived full lives. It all remained the same for four years, until Anny, a little daughter of Winchesters, died in 1866. It was considered that the reason of death was fatal malady, but the exact was not ascertained. Sara was badly shaken by the death of her daughter and fell into a deep depression. She couldn’t be treated for the depression till the end of her life. To make things still worse, soon after the event the woman found out that she couldn’t have children anymore. The only thing that was left for Sarah was the love for her husband, but in 1881 William, being a young man, died from tuberculosis and Sarah got out her mind completely.
The widow was left with the fortune of twenty million dollars and constant income, but she lost a taste for life. The woman didn’t communicate with her relatives and friends anymore, she didn’t sleep well, but she decided to find the reason of her misfortunes. As it usually happens people in such situations appeal to beyond powers. So, Sarah decided to make a spiritual session, which were quite popular at that time, ask spirits for advice. One of the most famous mediums in Boston made a session for her and the event determined her destiny afterwards. The medium said that the spirits defined the reason of misfortune as a strong Indian curse, which was called down the family because of murders made with Winchester guns. After the death of her daughter and William Winchester, Sarah was to follow them. There was only one way to avoid death for the woman. In order to fight with the curse, Sarah was to leave her house and search for a new place in western direction – signs were to help her find the right place to start building a new house. The building should be kept persistently with no interruption. As soon as the sound of working muted, Sara would immediately die.
The medium was a vice man, probably he knew how to act in such a situation. He gave the woman the answer that she immediately accepted. He sent her faraway, so that she didn’t return to him. The man gave her the idea which was to occupy her mind. Probably, he literally saved her life because after the session depressive thoughts were replaced with less destructive ones, she thought of building a new house.
Sara started her trip, having decided to go to California, where her nephew lived. On her way she found a good place for a house – an abandoned farm near San Jose city. She bought the house and the territory around it and began building, as the spirits advised her. That’s how the huge strange and mysteries house, known as the Winchester House, was built.
Missis Winchester hired a brigade of workers and made terms that the builders would work twenty-four-hour. Twenty hour a day twenty two carpenters were building the house without interruption. Pretty soon the farm transformed into a cottage with eight rooms, but Sarah didn’t mean to stop. There also appeared new rooms, attached wings and new floors. By the end of the nineteenth century that was an eight-floor odd looking house, scaring the local residents by its appearance. Missis Winchester was considered to be a strange woman, but still she was respected by them.
The woman paid the carpenters generously, she was never greedy for buying things for the house, and was respected for that too. He provided local residents with jobs and also their children. It was an interesting fact that, even the grandchildren а the first workers took part in building tens of years after. Sarah was supported by the idea of building the house and she didn’t die in fact – she was completely busy with repair, building and equipping the new rooms. Naturally, she didn’t have any plan of building at all, because she never applied for architects. When the time came to make a new room or a passage, she drew the plan herself, sometimes using simple napkins which came to hand. Most of her ideas were spontaneous; from time to time she changed her mind cardinally. For example, one colorer said that in the beginning she ordered to paint a room in red, but when the work was finished she asked to change the color for white. She changed the flooring in rooms, replaced thins constantly.
Sarah had no idea of architecture that was the reason that may ideas of her failed. In such situations, the head of the building works, John Hansen, helped her, as he knew a lot about building. He never argued with the owner, but tried to make everything at its best. Every morning the woman told him about her plans for the day and thing to make and change. Her orders were absolutely illogical and strange, but they followed them. In addition to that she made neither restrictions, nor exact time limits – the conditions were perfect.
In order to extend the house, Sarah bought new plots. The building had been held for thirty eight years, days and nights without interruption. Nowadays it is unknown how many rooms were made exactly, the approximate number is 500-600, many of them were ruined afterwards. The present-day house had 160 rooms, 16 bathrooms, 40 staircases, 2000 doors, six kitchens, 10000 windows and 47 fireplaces. Of course Sarah didn’t need that much place, it was all for the spirits. Of example, it was believed that spirits come into house through chimneys. The woman also avoided buying mirror because, as many people believe, spirits don’t like to pass them because they have no reflection – who would like to be reminded that they are not alive. That was the reason Sarah forbade using big mirrors and kept only little ones for herself, she used them only for a special purpose. It was also known that Sarah spent every night in a different room, so that the ghosts didn’t find her. However, it complicated the maids’ job as well, every time Missis Winchester rang her bell, and they had to consult the plan of the house. Lamps in the room from which the owner rang lit, so they just headed for it through the labyrinths of corridors.
There was a huge ball room in the Winchester house, the building of which demanded nine thousand dollars. At that time that was a big sum of money, a good house for a family could be built for a thousand dollars. Sarah, who was always fond of music, placed an organ there, she often played it. Later, when missis Winchester grew old, her fingers suffered from arthritis and she couldn’t play the organ anymore. But maids insisted that during spiritual sessions they could hear the sound of organ. Sarah kept on making spiritual sessions till her death. There was a special room equipped for that. The room was attached to the ball hall with a secret corridor. There were all the tools demanded for spiritual sessions prepared in it, the room also had thirteen hooks with clothes of different colors. The door of the room was hid in the wardrobe.
In 1906 a strong earthshaking took place, which ruined a part of the house and spoiled its appearance. The room in which the woman had slept was blocked; she could get out of it only a few hours later with the help of maids. Sarah was very frightened but soon she calmed down and ordered to reconstruct the ball room and some others. She decided to leave the upper floors, because they were totally destroyed – she considered it to be a sign and decided to make lower house. Nowadays the Winchester house has five in its towers and three in the main body of the building.
Today the Winchester house is a popular place of interest. Excursion guides don’t allow walking in the house alone; they warn that nobody should drop behind the group. The cottage is easy to get lost in it, besides that the house has traps and unexpected obstacles, for example, doors which have a wall behind that or no floor at all. Some staircases are so narrow that a plump person could hardly pass шею there are a lot of peculiar features in the house, most of them are associated with staircases. Some stairs are almost flat, for example one staircase consists of forty two stairs for climbing to one floor. Others, on the contrary, are too hard to climb; only strong and agile people can go up and down such stairs. When Sarah Winchester grew older and couldn’t climb stairs anymore, they made a lift for her.
The windows in the houses are also interesting, as it was mentioned there 10000 of them. The windows there not ordinary – every window was ordered at Tiffany workshop and designed by the owner of the house. The favorite theme in window design, made by Sarah, was spider web. Many of the windows face unexpected sides instead of the view of the yard; they might face other rooms and walls. The most beautiful things of the windows were stained-glasses, they were ordered in Austria. Sometimes the images are indistinctive and strange, but they have high arts value. The most expensive stained-glass window was to fill the room with all colors of rainbow and it was placed on the north side of the house. Some stained-glass panels are decorated with gems.
There are a lot of secret ways and hidden doors in the house. Maid often got thrilled when the owner came out the rooms unexpectedly with no sound at all; they even believed that she could walk through walls. Nowadays nobody knows about all of the peculiarities of the house, such as external dormers, strange doors, eyeholes and hidden corridors.
The park outside the house made in Victorian style is also attractive. Sarah Winchester ordered trees and plants from different countries of the world; the park had ebony trees, pines, chestnuts from England and rare kinds of plants. Nearly ten gardeners worked in the park at the same time. The owner allowed children from neighborhood to walk in the park ad didn’t make fences around шею the administration of the city organized charity evenings in the park from time to time. Sarah Winchester also sponsored them. She was known as a philanthropist, financing not only her building, but also building of orphan asylums and hospitals.
Sarah Winchester died from cardiac arrest at the age of 82 while sleeping. She was buried near her husband’s place, but many people said that they say her ghost in the house.