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About the Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Silicon Valley. Travelers are drawn to the sprawling 19th century Victorian mansion because of its massive size and odd building features.
It's said that Winchester rifle company heiress Sarah Winchester, grieving the loss of her husband and young daughter, became convinced that she was cursed. A medium told her that the only way to rid herself of these spirits was to never stop construction on her San Jose home. For the next 38 years, she had a crew working 7 days a week, 365 days a year, adding rooms and a labyrinth of strange passageways to trick the spirits.
While the mystery of what led Sarah Winchester to this curious obsession is no mystery at all (i.e. mental illness), the house is an interesting look into her world and the lovely architecture of the time, and life in 19th century San Jose. The house listed as a National Historic Landmark.
Click the arrows above to take a photo tour of the Winchester... Mystery House.
Visiting the Winchester Mystery House
525 South Winchester Blvd. San Jose, CA
Tours, Tickets & Hours:
There are three different types of tours offered each day (Prices: Adult / Senior / Child):
- Mansion Tour: 65 minute tour of the interior of the mansion. ($36 / 32 / 26)
- Behind the Scenes Tour: Discover the mansion basement, support outbuildings and more on this 45 minute guided tour of the grounds. Hard hats will be worn on this tour. Children 5 and under are not allowed due to safety concerns. ($30 / 28 / 25)
- Grand Estate Tour: A 2 hour tour includes the Mansion and Behind the Scenes Tour as well as Admission to the Victorian Gardens, Historic Firearms Museum, and Specialty Gifts & Products Museum. ($44 / 40 / 34)
On the Mansion Tour, children under 5 are free with adult. Children 5 and under are not allowed on the Behind the Scenes Tour due to safety concerns.
Hours: Tours depart every day, from 9am to 5pm, September 8 through May 22 and 9am to 7pm, May 23 to September 7.
(Updated: July 2015)Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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The Door to Nowhere
The Winchester house is full of strange passageways like this second story "door to nowhere." Winchester believed that things like this would distract and confuse the spirits she was convinced were following her.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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A Hallway to Nowhere
The interior of the house has several "hallways to nowhere," like this staircase that ends at a wall.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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The Switchback Staircase
The so-called "Switchback Staircase" has seven flights with forty four steps, but it only rises about nine feet since because step is just two inches high. This household oddity may have a very practical reason--it may have been built to allow Winchester to get around in her later years, despite her debilitating arthritis.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Beautiful details: Stained glass
Winchester never skimped on elegant details and the home has hundreds of colorful stained glass windows, many made by the Tiffany Company.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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Beautiful details: Ornate wooden floors
More of the lovely and handcrafted details--the wooden floors.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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Beautiful details: Luxe wallpapers
More of the lovely and handcrafted details--the luxe wallpaper.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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Beautiful details: Metalwork
More of the lovely and handcrafted details--the metalwork.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Stocked up for a lifetime of construction
As the staff were constantly building and retrofitting the house, there was a ton of household construction materials left at the time of Sarah Winchester's death. On touring the house, you can see boxes of supplies piled up in many of the rooms.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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Before the Earthquake
At the turn of the century, one tower of the home was seven stories high--see photo. That tower collapsed in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, so the crew decided not to rebuild. Today the house maxes out at four stories high.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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Be sure to peer out of one of the upper floor windows, into the sea of ornate roofs and decorative spires.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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Quirky souvenirs in the giftshop
At the end of the tour, be sure to check out the Winchester House giftshop which stocks a great selection of quirky California souvenirs.