The Winchester Mystery House has opened a new room just in time for Halloween. According to reports, the newly discovered attic room had been boarded up since 1906 and is believed to be haunted by “evil spirits.”
As discussed on the Winchester Mystery House official website, the unusual home was owned by Sarah Winchester, who was the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester.
The original construction of the mansion, which is located on 525 South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose, California, began in 1884 and continued, with little or no interruption, for 38 years.
Remarkably, the 24,000-square-foot house was built without using blueprints. Instead, the builders used vague sketches provided by Sarah Winchester herself. A strong believer in the spiritual world, Sarah reportedly held seances to consult spirits about the architecture of her home.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Winchester and her spirits were unable to agree on a formal plan for the construction of the home. Therefore, the structure and its rooms were changed hundreds of times between 1884 and 1922.
The renovations, which included the addition and eventual removal of more than 400 rooms, are often blamed for the house’s numerous anomalies, including “stairs that lead to the ceiling, doors that go nowhere [or] open onto walls, and chimneys that stop just short of the roof.”
However, according to legend, the anomalies were purposefully added to the Winchester Mystery House to confuse evil spirits and ghosts, which terrified Sarah Winchester.
“After traversing an interminable labyrinth of rooms and hallways… she would push a button, a panel would fly back and she would step quickly from one apartment into another… This was supposed to be very discomforting to evil spirits who are said to be naturally suspicious of traps.”
In addition to the unusual architecture, the Winchester Mystery House became known for its opulent furnishings, which include gold- and silver-plated chandeliers, Tiffany glass windows, and parquet floors. One of the most famous rooms, which is called the Hall of Fires, has a total of 47 fireplaces and 17 chimneys.
In 1906, the region was struck by an earthquake, which Sarah believed was a sign from the spiritual world.
As reported by ABC7 News, Mrs. Winchester was not physically harmed during the quake. However, she was blocked inside an attic room by debris. Sarah blamed evil demons and subsequently boarded up the room to prevent them from causing further harm.
Although the work on the house continued, Mrs. Winchester went into seclusion following the earthquake.
Following Sarah’s death in 1922, construction on the Winchester Mystery House was halted, and the work was deemed complete. The mansion was eventually designated as a California state landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Until recently, preservationists said the house had a total of 160 rooms.
As reported by KRON4, the Winchester Mystery House’s new room was discovered inside the house’s attic space. The preservation team confirmed the room was furnished with a dress form, several paintings, a pump organ, and a Victorian couch.
— Tampa NewsChannel (@Tampa_NC) October 11, 2016
According to the Winchester Mystery House’s Facebook page, visitors will not be permitted to enter the actual attic room where Sarah was trapped during the 1906 earthquake. However, the furnishings were moved to a makeshift room display in the mansion’s courtyard.
— Mercury News (@mercnews) October 7, 2016
Sarah Winchester’s reason for building such an unusual home, with countless anomalies, is likely to remain a mystery. As it is incredibly unique, the Winchester Mystery House remains one of San Jose’s largest and most popular tour attractions. A majority of the home, including the makeshift “attic room,” is open year-round for guided tours. During the Halloween season, the preservation team offers candlelight tours of the home and estate.