San Jose, CA

San Jose's Winchester House: Is it a Must-See?

Anita Durairaj

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As a horror-lover, I have been interested in Winchester House even before the movie Winchester came out in 2018. 

Winchester House is supposed to be the most haunted house in North America. US News Travel ranks the site a #9 in the top things to do in San Jose. 

Is it worth it to take a tour of Winchester House when you are in San Jose? Please note that in the current situation, tours of the house are limited due to Covid-19.

I was lucky that I got to take a tour of the famous house before Covid struck.

History and Background

Winchester House is a designated California historical landmark and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

It was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester who was the widow of businessman William Wirt Winchester. William Winchester was the President of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company that manufactured repeating firearms in the late 1800s.

The mansion was first constructed in 1886 but it became notorious for continuously being under construction until Sarah Winchester’s death in 1922.

Sarah Winchester was extremely wealthy when her husband died and spent a lot of money on the house. The building itself has 160 rooms, 40 bedrooms, 10,000 windows, and 2 basements. 

Sarah was supposed to be eccentric and the house also retained some of her peculiarities. There were doors that would lead to a dead-end. There were other doors that led to 8-foot and 15-foot drops. Then there were the staircases that led to ceilings. Some parts of the house just made no sense but this was what contributed to the house’s reputation as being haunted. 

Sarah was reported to believe in the paranormal. She was said to have been haunted by the spirits of those who were killed by the Winchester rifle. This was a reason why she moved to California to build her house even though the Winchester company was located in Connecticut.

The 2018 Winchester movie took liberties with the real-life story of Sarah Winchester but it cannot be denied that there is still something mysterious about the house even today.

Currently, the house is owned by Winchester Investments LLC which is a privately held company. After Sarah’s death, her properties passed onto her niece who then sold them in an auction to John and Mayme Brown. 

Winchester Investments LLC is held by the descendants of John and Mayme Brown. The company’s mission is to preserve the home and garden for future generations. 

Taking the Tour

Last I heard, tours of the house due to Covid are limited. Tickets can be bought online and are timed for safety. In order to prevent people from bumping into each other, the tours are organized so that visitors pass through the house in a one-way trail. Visitors can also tour the garden and outside area.

The house is amazing. For added effects, I would suggest watching the movie Winchester right before taking the tour of the house. Also, there is the nighttime flashlight tour you can take during Halloween. Visitors get to explore the dark hallways while hearing the haunted stories of the house.

I never got to experience any hauntings during my daytime tour of the house but I have heard of others seeing and hearing strange things like doors, windows, and furniture moving on their own.

To be honest, I did not find the tour to be scary. I think this is one tour that is best experienced at night for chills and thrills. 

Overall, I would highly recommend Winchester House for its history and architecture and its reputation for being haunted.

Sources: Wikipedia, Winchester Mystery House

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