Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The house with no end

The Winchester Mystery House (copyright Winchester House)

For me, the best kind of house has secret passageways, lots of places in which to play hide-and-seek, all kinds of rooms and hallways and surprises.
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is such a place.
We found it when we were looking for something to do with a few hours before the Yanni concert.
Apparently Sarah Winchester had all kinds of spare money when she moved into an 8-room farmhouse in the "country."
She also had all kinds of fears and superstitions.
She thought the house was haunted so she figured she had to keep moving to outwit the ghosts.
The door out to nowhere (copyright Winchester House)
She slept in a different room every night and kept adding to the house so the ghosts would leave her alone.
Over the years, she added multiple rooms and stairways and closets and a ballroom. She actually wanted two though she never used the first.
Today, the house is visited by tourists who are curious and willing to pay $40 each to see inside . (One hundred and ten rooms of the 160 can be visited.)
It's kinda spooky but mostly quite cool.
It's also kind of dangerous because some doors open out into nothing but air.
Some stairways end abruptly.
Some of the closets open onto stone walls.
Some look into other rooms so you'd never know if someone was watching you.
I loved it.
We walked around and around and came out in unexpected places.
We climbed funny little stairs that were only a few inches high. (The lady had arthritis and couldn't handle regular stairs.)
You could climb several flights and only be one or two floors higher when you finish.
The stories that go with the house are fascinating although the lady didn't do much except spend her money. Workers built around the clock for 38 years and never finished. When they were done with one room, they were dispatched to another one, remodeling and adding on a whim.
Sarah Winchester paid them well and decorated beautifully.
She had some clever ideas and put in gorgeous stained glass windows. She created a monument of sorts with gardens and a carriage house and a kind of timelessness that fires up the imagination.
It's kind of a shame.
With the space she had and the wealth, she could've opened up a really nifty orphanage.
Sarah Winchester's main bedroom (copyright Winchester House)
I can just see kids running around in the place ... me with them!

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