Unusual Tourist Sites: $5 1/2 Million Ghosthouse San Jose, California Part 1
About the unusual tourist site of the five and a half million dollar ghosthouse in San Jose, California, history and information.
San Jose, California
The 5 1/2-Million-Dollar Ghosthouse ... Schubert had his Unfinished Symphony--Sarah Winchester, her Unfinished Mansion. Between 1884, when the widow Winchester moved from Connecticut to San Jose, Calif., and 1922, when she died at the age of 83, one of the largest, weirdest, and most expensive private residences in the U.S. was "under construction." Even after 158 rooms had been built, rebuilt, and rebuilt yet again, the mansion, a $5.5-million monument to grief and guilt, was never completed. And it never will be.
In 1862, Sarah Pardee married William Wirt Winchester, whose father had manufactured the rifle that bore his name. Sarah's only child died in infancy. When her husband died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah Winchester inherited his $20-million fortune, but it did not console her; she feared that the souls of the thousands of people (many of them Indians) who had been killed by Winchester rifles had cursed the fortune and would haunt her. A spiritualist medium intensified her fears and suggested that she appease the vengeful spirits by building a house that would attract the good, protective ghosts, including her husband's, but would keep the dangerous riffraff phantoms away.
Nobody knows just why she selected San Jose as the site for her wondrous house, but the millionairess' arrival in that town stirred up gossip and tall tales that persist to this day. The unvarnished truth, however, is strange enough. She began by hiring 22 carpenters, and then added a platoon of landscape gardeners who planted a 6' cypress hedge to conceal her endeavors from prying eyes; upkeep of the hedge alone required the services of 7 Japanese gardeners. During the 38 years the Widow Winchester lived there, the sound of hammers and saws never ceased. Crews of carpenters--an average of 16 men at a time, some of whom worked on the house for 20 years--labored Sundays, holidays, even Christmases, installing the 10,000 windows (some of them barred), 5 fully equipped kitchens, 13 bathrooms, 5 heating systems, 3 elevators, 48 fireplaces--all hand-carved of the finest woods--miles of secret passageways, 40 stairways (some ending in midair), and 2,000 doors, many of which opened on solid walls!
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