Photo courtesy of daveynin
If you watch most horror movies, you’ll notice one thing. Most of the time, the main characters aren’t packing heat and if they were, the movie would be pretty short. But what if one of the world’s most recognizable names in firearms actually contributed to a real-life haunting? In fact, there may be one of the most prolific hauntings in the world at the Winchester House. We’ll look at the spooky story of the haunting of Winchester house here.
The Haunting of Winchester House: the Origins
Although it may not be common knowledge, the Winchester House is one of the most haunted places not only in California but in the entire world. The house traces its origins back to Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester (the son of the company’s founder, Oliver Winchester). In 1880 and 1881, Sarah experienced several deaths in her family, including William’s. This was about 14 years after the death of the Winchesters’ only child.
Afterward, Sarah was left with copious amounts of money. Suffering from arthritis, she moved from New Haven, Connecticut to California, thinking that the warmer climate would help her condition. After moving there, she began building the Winchester House. After initially completing the house, Sarah continued to build more and more additions to the mansion. Some rumors at the time said that she thought if she ever completed construction on the house, she would die. As a reclusive widow, she quickly drew the attention of local newspapers and gained a reputation for being insane.
Winchester Haunting: the Events
Visitors to the house have reported strange experiences. Some say they’ve heard ghostly music, footsteps, and other odd sounds, along with the smell of cooking. Others say they’ve had more malicious experiences, like walking through cold spots and hearing slamming doors and windows, whispers, or the sensation of being watched. No one is exactly sure who or what haunts the property, but some believe that it’s the spirits of all the people that Winchester weapons killed.
A view of the house from above, which really lets you see all of the additions Sarah Winchester made over the years. Photo courtesy of Onasill.
Is the Winchester House Still Haunted?
While several purported paranormal investigators have visited the house and dismissed the claims of a haunting there, it hasn’t stopped the reports from flowing in. Today, the Winchester House is actually a tourist attraction that sees thousands of visitors every year. The building even spawned a 2009 indie horror movie called The Haunting of Winchester House. I haven’t watched it yet, which is a disservice to you, dear reader. But the reviews say it’s pretty bad, so you’re on your own there.
Today, the Winchester Mystery House is a designated California Historic Landmark. In a bizarre coincidence, its Landmark Number is 686 – the same number as a model of revolver produced by Smith & Wesson, a company that Winchester founder Oliver Winchester purchased and rebranded as his own company, Winchester Repeating Arms.
Learn More About Firearms History and Technology at SDI
The story of Winchester House is just one of the many tales in the annals of firearms lore. And SDI can help you get to work penning your own chapter. To get started, explore all of the programs we offer here.