The Winchester Home: A Spooky Construction Story- By: M Shane
Think that your renovations take forever? Thank your lucky stars that you donít have things as hard as Sarah Winchester did. Starting in 1884, the Winchester House was in a constant state of construction and renovation for the next 38 years.
Sarah Winchester was the daughter-in-law to Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifle, the Gun That Won the West. But Sarah became very depressed after her daughter died as an infant in 1866 and her husband died of tuberculosis in 1881. She was later convinced by a Medium that she was being haunted by the spirits of everyone who had been killed by Winchester rifles.
The Medium claimed that to avoid being the spiritsí next victim, she needed to construct a great home for them and that as long as the house was under construction she would be safe. So, Sarah took that advice and embarked on a project which would last her till her death in 1922.
Sarah bought an unfinished farm house and employed workers round the clock to work on the construction to appease the spirits. Each night she would make her way through the increasingly maze-like house in order to reach the central sťance room where she would commune with spirits who she claimed would give her direction in how the rooms were to be built. Unfortunately her spirit guides often changed their minds and many rooms were renovated over and over, or simply sealed off.
As the house design changed on a constant basis, eventually it became more common for the home to have odd features like doors to nowhere and staircases that ended at a ceiling. In one area there is even a window in the floor; we can only guess for what reason. The modest farmhouse eventually grew to a seven story mansion with 160 rooms sprawled over about 6 acres while the estate swelled to an impressive 161 acres of gardens, outbuildings, and orchards. The mansion features 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens.
Sarah, in her drive to ensure that the spirits were placated by her extensive home, paid no heed to cost and spent a small fortune on decorating and furnishing Winchester House. The home has elegant parquet floors, imported wallpapers, Tiffany art glass windows, gold and silver chandeliers, and fabrics imported from India.
Whether Sarah Winchesterís perpetual construction project actually helped keep her ghosts at bay was probably only known to her, but what is interesting is that currently the Winchester House restoration is still an ongoing affair. It is reported by the organization that runs the homeís museum and shop that no sooner is the outside of the sprawling mansion repainted that workmen have to start again at the beginning and the renovations and refurnishing of the interior have been ongoing for years as well.
So, the next time you have complaints about the length of time that your renovation is taking, be glad that your renovations arenít a lifelong endeavour planned by spirits who change their minds on a whim.
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