Windows to mystery

Gili Orr

Haarlem, Netherlands

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“Windows to mystery” was featured in the groups #12 Great Feature’s and Northern California Style.

Solved by Shaina!! – The Winchester Mystery House, California

The Winchester Mystery House is a well-known California mansion that was under construction continuously for 38 years, and is reputed to be haunted. It once was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, but is now a tourist attraction. Under Sarah Winchester’s day-to-day guidance, its “from-the-ground-up” construction proceeded around-the-clock, without interruption, from 1884 until her death on September 5, 1922, at which time work immediately ceased. The cost for such constant building has been estimated at about US $5.5 million (if paid in 1922, this would be equivalent to almost $70 million in 2008 dollars).

The mansion is renowned for its size and utter lack of any master building plan. According to popular belief, Sarah Winchester thought the house was haunted by the ghosts of individuals killed by Winchester rifles, and that only continuous construction would appease them. It is located at 525 South Winchester Blvd. in San Jose, California.

Deeply saddened by the deaths of her daughter Annie in 1866 and her husband in 1881, and seeking solace, Sarah consulted a medium on the advice of a friend. According to popular history, the medium, who has become known colloquially as the “Boston Medium”, told Sarah that she had the feeling that there was a curse upon the Winchester family because the guns they made had taken so many lives. She told Sarah that “thousands of people have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking vengeance.”

Although this is disputed, popular belief holds that the Boston Medium told Sarah that she had to leave her home in New Haven and travel West, where she 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.”

There are about 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms and two ballrooms. The house also has 47 fireplaces, 10,000 window panes, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements and three working elevators. Winchester’s property was some 162 acres (650,000 m²) at one time, but now the estate is just 4.5 acres (24,000 m²) — the minimum necessary to contain the house and nearby outbuildings. It has gold and silver chandeliers and inlaid parquet floors and trim. There are doors and stairways that lead nowhere and a vast array of colors and materials. Before the availability of elevators, special “easy riser” stairways were installed to allow Winchester access to every part of the mansion, to accommodate her severe arthritis. Roughly 20,500 gallons (76,000 liters) of paint were required to paint the house. Due to the sheer size of the house, by the time every section of the house was painted, the workers had to start repainting again.

The house also has many conveniences that were rarely found at the time of its construction, including steam and forced-air heating, modern indoor toilets and plumbing, push-button gas lights, a hot shower from indoor plumbing and even three elevators, including one with the only horizontal hydraulic elevator piston in the United States.

Source: Wikipedia

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