While visiting California's Bay Area be sure to visit one of the most haunted (and outright bizarre) houses in America - The Winchester Mystery House. It is a mansion in San Jose and that was once the home of Sarah Winchester - the widow of William Wirt Winchester (the wealthy treasurer of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company).

Today is it designated as a Californian history landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built by Sarah Winchester after she inherited considerable wealth from her husband after he died of tuberculosis to her death in 1922. The mansion was in a continuous state of expansion from 1886 to 1922. See here for other things to see and do in San Francisco.

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History And Background Of The Mansion

  • Address: 525 South Winchester Blvd, San Jose
  • Built: In 1886

This mansion is made in the Queen Anne Style Victorian style and is famous for how strange - and haunted - it is. It was built without a master building plan, it is full of architectural curiosities, and is really massive. It remains privately owned and is open to the public as a tourist attraction.

Sarah Winchester seems to have become eccentric after her husband died and her infant daughter died of the illness called marasmus. It is said that a Boston spirit medium told her that she would travel to the West and that she must continuously build a home for herself and the many people who had fallen victim to the famous Winchester rifles.

Throughout its life, there have been many stories of it being haunted by the ghosts of the killed with Winchester rifles. Even before Sarah Winchester's passing, there were many stories swirling around this odd house. She was a rare eccentric but wealthy woman who isolated herself from the rest of the world and just focus almost the rest of her life on building this truly bizarre mansion. See here for creepy catacombs around the world.

  • $20.5 Million: The Amount Sarah Winchester Inherited Following Her Husband's Death

Related: 10 Spooky Halloween Traditions From Around The World

Some of the rumors and questions that have long since been circling according to the mansion's website have been:

"Was she instructed to build this home by a psychic?"

"Was she haunted by the ghosts of those felled by the “Gun that Won the West”?"

"Did construction truly never stop?"

"What motivated a well-educated socialite to cut herself off from the rest of the world and focus almost solely on building the world’s most beautiful, yet bizarre mansion?"

After Mrs. Winchester's Death

When Mrs. Winchester died all of her possessions (apart from the house) were passed on to her niece and personal secretary. When she built the house, she also thoroughly furnished it. Her niece took most of the furnishings out of the house. Rumor has it took six trucks, 8 hours a day, for 6 weeks to remove all the wanted furnishings.

  • The Will: In Her Will, Mrs. Winchester Made No Mention Of the Mansion

At her death the house was considered worthless because it had been damaged by an earthquake, it was unfinished and completely impractical. Still, it was sold in an auction for over $135,000. It didn't take long after Mrs. Winchester's death for it to become a tourist attraction. It welcomed its first guided tour only five months later in February 1923.

  • Sold: For $135,000 At Auction

Size Of The House

The Winchester Mystery House is truly massive. One will need some time to see it, it is no regular house! Here are the numbers of just how big it is.

  • Rooms: 160 Rooms (Including 40 Bedrooms)
  • Staircases: 40 Different Staircases
  • Bathrooms: 13 Bathroom
  • Windows: 10,000 Different Window Pane
  • Fireplaces: 47 Fireplaces
  • Doors: 2,000 Doors
  • Other: 6 Kitchens, 52 Skylights, 3 Elevators, 2 Basements, But Only 1 Shower

Tours Of The Mansion

There are numerous tours around the mansion, to really see the whole mansion, one may consider booking more than one tour.

Guided Mansion Tour

  • Rooms: Be Guided Through 110 of the 160 Rooms
  • Tour Duration: 1 Hour, 5 Minutes
  • Price: From $19.99 to $41.99

Explore More Tour

  • First: First All-New Tour Offered Here In more Than 20 Years
  • New Experiences: Takes Guests To Parts Of The House Never Before Open To The Public
  • Restrictions: Children Under 6 Are Not Permitted On This Tour
  • Tour Duration: 1 Hour And 10 Minutes
  • Price: $19.99 to $41.99

Related: San Francisco to Napa Valley: How To Plan The Perfect Day Trip Itinerary

Sarah Winchester Garden Tour

  • Gardens: This Tour Is Only Of The Gardens And Not Of The Mansion, Great Tour To Book With Other Tours In A Money-Saving Bundle
  • Price: $19.99 (Adults)

All Hallows' Eve Tour

  • Season: Selected Autumn Nights Through Halloween
  • Added Bonus: The Family-Friendly Jack O' Lantern Trail Through The Victorian Gardens
  • Cost: $64.99 Per Adult, $34.99 Per Child

The mansion is a great activity for the whole family, the kids are sure to enjoy the spooky tails.

Next: Visiting San Francisco For The First Time Can Be Overwhelming, Unless You Know Where To Stay