Of all of the haunted locations in America, the Winchester Mystery House may have one of the most enigmatic legends surrounding it. A monument to paranoia and guilt, the House is a testament to the ways that the human psyche drives behavior.
In 1862 Sarah Purdee of New Haven Connetticutt married the heir to the Winchester gun fortune, William Wirt Winchester. While the couple was ultimately happy together the marriage was tinged with sadness as their daughter died young just four years into the relationship-and Winchester himself died in 1881.
Having never fully recovered from the depression that she fell into after the death of her daughter, Sarah began to seek out Spiritualists to attempt to contact the spirits of her deceased family. Ultimately, she believed that she had contacted spirits-but those spirits were those that had been killed by the guns that the Winchesters produced. Those spirits had killed her family-and were seeking out further retribution by eventually killing her.
The medium further informed her that there was a way of avoiding this fate. Winchester was to build them a house-a house in the American west. The house had to always be under construction. While her entire motives were not always clear, Winchester did purchase land in San Jose and began working on a farmhouse.
Construction went on around the clock and the house quickly a multistory sprawling affair. The Winchester fortune was more than large enough to support her eccentricities and Winchester was known to be a fair employer. However, her behavior-and her reasonings-led to rumors about the property as early as the turn of the 20th century. Local legend stated that she had built special rooms for ghost communication, and rarely moved in the same way around the house.
By the time of her death in 1922 the Winchester house had 160 rooms, along with a number of bizarre architectual features such as staircases leading to nowhere. The house was sold at auction and was made open to the public in 1923.