The Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House, Spiritual Hotbed or shades of the DaVinci code?

By Sherry Michaels Perry


Winchester Mystery House, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

In 1884 construction began on a house in California, and a prevailing mystery began. Sara Winchester, widow, and heir to the massive Winchester rifle fortune moved from New Haven after she lost her husband to TB and her infant daughter to marasmus. According to lore, the bereft widow began consulting a spiritualist who convinced her that the spirits of the people killed by the Winchester rifles were angry and sought to harm her. The only way to keep the ghosts at bay was to begin construction on an ever-changing house to stay ahead of the angry spirits. Carpenters haphazardly started work on the house as no architects were used. Some stairs go nowhere, staircases with uneven risers, doors that opened into nothing.
The house was initially built to 7 stories, but three of these stories were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and only 4 remains. There are approximately 161 rooms, the latest having been discovered in 2016. Since she was very wealthy, she did not skimp on expense, and many of the windows were made by Tiffany, including the Shakespeare window which many people believe to be a nod to the noted English philosopher Francis Bacon.
Sarah had quite the obsession with the number 13. Most of the windows had 13 panes of glass, 13 paneled ceilings, 13 step stairwells; her will had 13 sections with 13 signatures. There were 13 bathrooms, and bathroom number 13 had 13 windows. Curiously, there was only one working toilet out of all those bathrooms, and towards the end of her life, Sarah’s arthritis was so severe that she had to have more shallow staircases built because she could not live her feet very high.
Sarah supposedly consulted with the spirits every night for construction plans then shared them in the morning with the foreman. She slept in a different bedroom every night to confuse the souls that were supposed to be angry with her and seeking revenge.
Richard Allen Wagner, in his article “The Truth about the Winchester House” proposes that the paranormal tales floating around about the Winchester House were started for tourism reasons. He states that Sarah was instead a Rosicrucian and a Freemason. He states that the great Shakespeare window and the repetitive use of the number 13 are “intricate puzzles of coded messages implemented to guide the adventurer on a treasure trail of discovery. “
He further states that the architectural details highlight the Kabbalistic numbers emphasized by the Rosicrucian’s and Freemasons. He supports this by pointing out that 13 is the most famous number in the Fibonacci sequence (DaVinci Code anyone?) which has great meanings to both the Rosicrucian’s and the Freemasons.
Whatever Sarah Winchester’s motives were for building the house it provided much-needed work for many people of that era and is a point of fascination for many today. Perhaps we do not need to know her reasoning’s, enjoy exploring the mystery mansion she left behind for us.


The Infamous Shakespearian Windows

Published by TheOddPast by Matthew A. Perry

Writer, teacher, broadcaster, and podcaster from West Virginia. I write about and discuss the wacky and weird side of history on my website and my podcast "The Odd Past Podcast" available everywhere

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