Guest Blog : Finding the Holiday Spirit at the Winchester Mystery House by Megan Starrak

In San Jose, California, there is a mansion with a spooky history. It is the infamous Winchester Mystery House. It was built by Sarah Winchester, who was married to William Wirt Winchester. He was the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. After his untimely death in 1881, Sarah inherited a fortune and 50% of business ownership. Soon after William’s death, she visited a medium and was reportedly able to contact her late husband. The advice her husband gave her was to move to California and build a house for the spirits of those killed by Winchester-brand guns. 

She followed this recommendation and bought a small farmhouse in San Jose in 1884, and the building began. Construction would continue 24 hours a day until Sarah died in 1922. By then, the house had grown into a seven-story mansion with 161 rooms. Other statistics on the place are that it contains 10,000 panes of glass, 47 fireplaces, and an unknown number of ghosts. 

The house is open year-round to the public. But for those who want to get into the holiday spirit, the house transforms into a Victorian Christmas showcase from late November until early January. One unique tour that will be given during the 2022 holiday season on December 3rd, 10th, and 17th at 5:30 is the Holidays with the Historian Tour. Led by historian Janan Boehme, it is a two-hour tour through the house with a focus on Victorian holiday traditions, caroling, and a special snack in the dining room. Guests participating in this tour are encouraged to dress in Victorian attire for their visit. 

Another event at the Winchester Mystery House on the weekend of December 3rd and 4th is the 4th Annual Menagerie Holiday Oddities & Curiosities Market. Over the weekend, vendors will sell unusual collectibles, antiques, and handmade items. So, if you or anyone on your Christmas list are a fan of taxidermy, medical specimens, or dark artworks and live near San Jose, you should make plans to attend. 

The Winchester Mystery House is an excellent attraction for those interested in the paranormal or life in the Victorian era. But for holiday season enthusiasts, it offers many special tours and events to bring the holiday spirit to life. 

 

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