The Winchester Mystery House is a sprawling mansion located in San Jose California. It was built on the direction of Sarah Winchester after the death of her husband, William Winchester (of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company). Winchester claimed that her home was haunted, but whether or not the hauntings were real, the house is a fascinating architectural oddity.
Winchester was reportedly told by a medium that the untimely deaths of her husband and their infant daughter (15 years earlier) were the result of the spirits of people who had been killed by Winchester rifles, and the only way to prevent her own early death was to build a house for them... and never stop building it.
Winchester purchased an unfinished farmhouse in 1884, and the house was under continuous (or near continuous) construction until her death in 1922. Winchester did not employ an architect; she worked with a single foreman overseeing construction crews, and reportedly held nightly seances to acquire building plans.
In addition to housing the spirits that tormented Sarah Winchester, the constant construction was also intended to confuse them: any spirits with ill-intent would get lost before they could find her to cause her harm. The house currently has 160 rooms, but the Winchester estate estimates that over 500 rooms were constructed over the 38-year building period.
The house also features elements like impossibly long branching hallways, secret passageways, windows on the walls and floors of completely interior rooms, staircases that lead directly to ceilings, and doors that open into empty space - including the famous example in which an interior door opens to a 2-story drop onto the front lawn.
The Winchester Mystery House is now a historical landmark and tourist attraction. For more pictures and information, see the House’s official website.