Winchester Mystery House

525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128, United States

By Ben Loomis – DSC_9441.jpg, CC BY 2.0,

Winchester Mystery House ® is an architectural wonder and historic landmark in San Jose, CA that was once the home of Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester, and the heiress of a large portion of Winchester ® Repeating Arms. Her infant daughter died of childhood illness, and her husband was taken from tuberculosis a few years later.

The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion in San Jose , California, once home to Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester. Located at 525 South Winchester Blvd. in San Jose, the Queen Anne Style Victorian Mansion is renowned for its size, architectural curiosities and lack of any master building plan. It is a designated historic landmark of California and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. It’s privately owned and serves as a tourist attraction.

Since its construction in 1886, the property and the mansion have been claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles. Under Winchester’s day-to-day guidance, his “out-of-the-ground” construction proceeded around the clock, according to some accounts, without interruption, until his death on 5 September 1922, when work ceased immediately. 

After her husband died of tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah Winchester inherited more than US$ 20.5 million (equivalent to US$ 543 million in 2019). She also received almost fifty percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company , giving her an income of approximately $1,000 a day, equivalent to $26,000 a day in 2019. These heirlooms have given her an enormous amount of wealth that she has used to finance the ongoing construction.

After her infant daughter died of a disease known as marasmus, a child’s disease in which her body was lost, and her husband died of pulmonary tuberculosis, the Boston medium told her (while supposedly channeling her late husband) that she should leave her home in New Haven and travel to the West, where she must continue to build a home for herself and the spirits of the people who had fallen victim to it.

Winchester left New Haven and headed to California. Although it is possible that she was simply looking for a change of location and a hobby during her long depression, other sources say that Winchester had come to believe that her family and fortune had been haunted by ghosts, and that only by moving West and continuing to build a house could shed light on those spirits.

She bought an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley in 1884 and began building her mansion. Carpenters were hired and worked in the house day and night until it became a seven-story mansion. The architect did not use it and added it to the building in a haphazard fashion, so the house contains numerous oddities, such as doors and stairs that go nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms, and stairs with odd-sized risers. Many accounts attribute these peculiarities to her belief in ghosts. Environmental psychologists have argued that the odd layout itself contributes to the feeling that the house is haunted today.

This amazing historical landmark is just one of the many must-see landmarks you don’t want to miss in San Jose, California:

  • Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site
  • Luis Maria Peralta Adobe
  • César Chávez Family Home 
  • History Park
  • James Lick Mansion
  • St. James Park – San Jose History Walk Marker #23
  • Southern Pacific Railroad Steam Locomotive #1215 
  • Olympic Black Power Statue  

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location located at 3880 South Bascom Avenue in San Jose, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!