September 17th, 2005

Egrets Reading

Winchester Mystery House

My sister, niece, and I spent the day touring the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. For the uninitiated, this is the strange unfinished Victorian mansion Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester was building for thirty years around the turn of the century to appease the spirits of those killed by the Winchester Rifle, the “Gun That Won the West”.

It has all sorts of fun architectural oddities such as stairs that climb to the ceiling, doors that open to walls, a “door to nowhere” on the second story that opens to the exterior of the house without any landing or outdoor staircase, a gorgeous tiffany window that was placed on the north side of the house where no direct sunlight would ever hit it, that is, if the window even opened to the exterior of the house, which it doesn’t, etc, etc, etc.

Winchester reportedly spent each evening in her séance room, consulting the spirits about the building plans, and servants supposedly needed maps to navigate the constantly changing house. She was fond of the number 13, sunflowers, and spider webs and incorporated these themes into the house – bathrooms with thirteen windows, sinks with thirteen overflow drain holes, stained glass with sunflower and spider web designs, etc.

This is a place I’ve wanted to visit since I was about 13 years old so it was good to finally have seen the place in person. I’ve written several poems about Sarah Winchester and her house but I’m sure that more will follow at some point now that I’ve actually been there!

Best of all, we managed to take some photos of her ghost! Ok, perhaps it was a lighting effect caused by all of the stained glass and prisms in the house windows, but as we approach October, it’s fun to think otherwise.

haunted house
the photograph
of a blue blob