Sarah L. Winchester was born on September 1839 in New Haven, Connecticut. She was a prominent beauty as well as talented. Despite her diminutive size, Sarah was well-known among the young men. She captured the heart of one particular young man by the name of William Wirth Winchester and they were married on September 30, 1862 in New Haven. Four years later, Sarah would give birth to their first child, a daughter on July 12, 1866. Within only a few days the child contracted a children's disease and died. Sarah would have no other children as she was grief strickened over this. Six years later, tragedy struck again when her husband died of pulmonary tuberculosis.
After suffering the emotional pain of the deaths of her one and only daughter and her husband, Sarah was prompted by a friend to go to a Spiritualist medium. She was told that her family was cursed by all those who were killed by the Winchester Rifle who were now seeking vengenance. This very curse took the life of her husband and her child and soon would take her too. She was also told to leave her home in New Haven and follow the setting sun. Her dead husband would lead her to her new home and that she would know it when she saw it. The medium also informed Sarah that she had to build a home for her and the spirits and to never stop building the house. If she was to stop, she would die.
Shortly after leaving the seance, Sarah sold her house and moved to California where she found a 6 room house currently under construction. A Dr. Caldwell was its current owner and she entered negotiations with him until she finally convinced him to sell the house and the 162 acres of land it sat on. She recruited local workers to do construction on her new home. Sarah had 22 carpenters working on her house year around, 24 hours a day. There were never any set plans for the construction of the house. Every day, Sarah would meet with the foreman and go over the day's plan that she had sketched.
There were a number of abnormalties: stairs the led to nowhere,closets that opened to blank walls, trap doors, double-back hallways, skylights that were located one above another, doors that opened to steep drops to the lawn below, and countless of others. And it was very obvious that she was obsessed with the number "13." There are walls that had 13 panels, nearly all of the windows contained 13 panes of glass, the greenhouse had 13 cupolas, many wooden floors contained 13 sections, etc. The reason for all the abnormalties, or to what Sarah believed in, was to confuse the bad spirits. It was a maze designed for them.
Everything seem to be going great until unexpected event occured. The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 destroyed most of the house. Sarah took it as a sign that the spirits were angry that the house was nearly finished. So she boarded up 30 rooms to show that the house would never be finished and also to trap those spirits that collapsed with the house during the earthquake.
Sadly on September 4, 1922, Sarah Winchester died in her sleep at age 83. She left everything to her niece, Frances Marriot. Even though Sarah's bank account dwindled over the years, there were rumors that there was a hidden safe that contained a fortune of jewelry and a solid-gold dinner set which no one has yet to find.
Since the house is such a labryinth, no one can actually get a correct estimate on how many rooms are actually in the Winchester Mansion. Some have come up with 145, others say 160. It took movers nearly six weeks just to remove all the furniture from the house. Now the house is consider a California Historical Landmark and is registered with the National Park Service.
Those who have visited the Winchester Mansion say it is haunted. Not only by Sarah's ghost but by other spirits as well. There are stories of people hearing footsteps, banging on walls, and even the sounds of construction. This house gave inspiration to writer Stephen King's novel Rose Red. Of course, there are the sceptics who believe there is nothing there at all. What do you think?
More info: http://www.prairieghosts.com/winchester.html