13 Bizarre Facts About The Unfinished And Haunted Winchester Mystery House

Located in San Jose, CA, the Winchester Mystery House is a chilling real-life haunted house story. The eerie and labyrinthine Victorian mansion was built by practicing spiritualist Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester and heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune.

Legend has it that after the tragic deaths of many of her close family members (including her husband and infant daughter), she consulted with a medium who told her that she needed to buy a house and never stop its reconstruction in order to appease the ghosts of all the people who had been murdered by Winchester rifles. She promptly hired a crew who proceeded to work nonstop on her house from morning until night, building continuously until her passing in 1922. As a result, the mansion contains many odd features, such as doors that lead to nowhere, indoor windows, trapdoors, and stairs that lead into the ceiling - all with the goal of "confusing" the spirits.

Creepy stories about the Winchester Mystery House abound from its tour guides, from a ghost named Clyde in the basement to mysterious footsteps on the third floor. Read on to learn 13 spine-tingling facts about the Winchester Mystery House.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • There Are Doors And Windows That Lead To Nowhere

    Doors and windows that lead to nowhere are a common occurrence in the house, but perhaps the most chilling of them is located on the second floor, where there is one particular door that opens directly outside to a two-story drop.

  • The Seance Room Has One Entrance - But Three Exits

    According to legend, Sarah carried the only key to her beloved seance room where she would commune nightly with spirits in order to receive new instructions for designing her house. However, the spookiest part about the room is that it has only one entrance but three exits.

    One of these exits is even through the closet, but once you've left, the doors shut behind you and you can't get back in.

  • Everything Is Topsy-Turvy

    One of the eeriest qualities of the mansion is the completely topsy-turvy nature of its design. There are cabinets and doors that open up into walls, balconies and windows are found indoors, and some floors even have skylights.

    Other Alice in Wonderland-esque features include a large, apartment-sized linen closet next to a shallow cupboard. Another room has two doors - one large enough for an adult and one only big enough for a child.

  • There Are Some Pretty Unusual Staircases

    There Are Some Pretty Unusual Staircases
    Photo: InSapphoWeTrust / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    There are a total of 40 staircases located throughout the Winchester House, and one set of stairs - for reasons unknown - goes straight into the ceiling. 

    Additionally, due to her arthritis, Sarah had her workers create some staircases with tiny risers built in, each one barely more than an inch off the floor, so that she could get around the house more easily.

  • An Unknown Room Was Discovered In The 1970s

    An Unknown Room Was Discovered In The 1970s
    Photo: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 1975, workers discovered a new room inside the Winchester Mystery House, latched closed by a 1910 lock on the door. The forgotten room had two chairs and an early 1900 phonograph speaker hidden inside.

    The theory is that Sarah may have simply forgotten about the room and built over it.

  • The Number 13 Can Be Found Everywhere

    For some people, the number 13 has unlucky connotations. However, for Sarah, it had some sort of fortuitous meaning, as the number can be found hidden in numerous places throughout the mansion.

    For example, there are windows with 13 panes, staircases with 13 steps, and 13 bathrooms. To top it off, the 13th bathroom has 13 windows with 13 panes.