Monday, 17 January 2011

The Winchester House

In 1881 Sarah Winchester, distraught at the loss of her husband at a young age and still grieving a daughter that she had lost previously, visited a medium to try and find some comfort.
The medium informed Sarah that the Winchester family, heirs to the inventors of the Winchester Repeating Rifle, were cursed because the guns that they had made had taken so many lives.
Sarah was told that the only way to escape the wrath of the spirits would be to build a house.
But she could never stop building the house. If building work on the house was ever finished or stopped then Sarah would die and the spirits would have their vengeance.
The fortune of the Winchester family at this point stood at around $20 million and Sarah’s shares in the Winchester Company gave her an income of $1,000 a day.
This gave Sarah the funds she needed for the house and work began in 1884.
Because of the scope of the project there was no blueprint or overall design.
Instead, the House was built from the ground up and the interior composed of a labyrinthine series of twists and turns that Sarah hoped would baffle any spirits that hoped to find her.
Sarah also believed that the number 13 would help to ward off evil spirits and incorporated this into various features of the House. She also made use of the huge building by never sleeping in the same bedroom on consecutive nights.
The nature of the project meant that Sarah had work on the House continuing around the clock, however the workmen were paid double their normal daily rate so there was never a shortage of labour.
By 1906 the House was seven storeys tall but an earthquake caused massive damage.
It is possible that Sarah saw this as something of a blessing.
Sarah Winchester died in 1922 and her estate fell to her niece Marion Merriman Marriott.
The House and grounds didn’t fall under the terms of the legacy but the household goods and furnishings did so Marion auctioned them off.
It took six trucks working for six weeks to clear the House.
Currently the House has four floors. There are 160 rooms including 40 bedrooms and two ballrooms. There are 47 fireplaces, 47 stairways, 10,000 window panes, 2,000 doors, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens and 2 basements.
It is still only partly constructed...

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