Beyond the Ghost Stories of the Winchester Mystery House

Beyond the Ghost Stories of the Winchester Mystery House

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(gentle piano music) – [Walter] Winchester Mystery
House is a crown jewel in the Santa Clara Valley. – This house, an amazing house, was built by Sarah Lockwood Pardee, who married into the Winchester family. – This place has been
open for tour since 1923. – You’re going to see
unusual things, like this. – [Walter] There’s architecture, there’s incredible craftsmanship,
it’s a very unique house. – Some people believe that
these were Sarah’s methods for dealing with unfriendly
ghosts, baffling the spirits. We don’t really know. After 36 years of remodeling, maybe these are just a few
of her building mistakes. – It’s an incredible story, you know, it’s a true American story. – Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester was the heiress to the Winchester fortune, and she came out to
California in about 1884-85, and she bought herself a little house and started a grand remodeling project. (adventurous Western music) And it never really ended. So, is everybody ready
to discover the unusual, the bizarre, and the beautiful? The house once stood seven stories high. The 1906 earthquake caused a
great deal of structural damage to the top floors of the house. Sarah was terrified. At that time, all of this was removed, she took all of it away. And, after that, she
built out instead of up. This house grew over
the years to encompass about 24,000 square feet of space. We can’t be sure, there’s no
blueprints, there’s no plans. It’s not just big, it’s huge. (mysterious electronic music) The exterior is American
Queen Anne, no question. It was almost as if they had a checklist. Turrets, check, columns,
check, finials, check. It’s Queen Anne, but the
interior is absolutely aesthetic movement.
(jaunty piano music) So during the aesthetic movement,
they didn’t see any reason why useful, everyday objects
shouldn’t be beautiful. They felt that beautiful surroundings were morally uplifting, they improved
people’s quality of life. And so they decorated
things, and not just, you know, things you would
expect to be decorated, doorknobs with wonderful designs on them. Hinges, everywhere you
look there’s something that has a special detail to it. That radiator, aside from being useful, is also kind of pretty. You’ll find natural
images: leaves, flowers, inspects, birds. Sometimes it’s playful, sometimes it’s reminiscent
of another culture. Persian, Moorish, Egyptian, Greek, and especially Japanese. You’ll see bamboo, all sorts
of Asian painted wallpaper. We recently reinstalled
the original mantelpieces, they’re japanned, which
means they’re painted black, and then they have incised
decoration painted gold, decorative tiles with the cherry blossoms, the sunflowers in the vases
with the fish images on them. You can see there’s
also some of the finest stained glass windows in
the house right there. The Japanese influence
was very asymmetrical, which is another aesthetic motif. Another aspect of
Sarah’s decorating genius was her love of stained glass. She actually ordered about 25 windows that were all variations on a theme. And this is an example of one of her beautiful stained glass windows. They say it’s the most
expensive one in the mansion. It’s not only beveled crystal, it’s got what they call zipper cuts all around the edges to detail it. I mean, this is fine craftsmanship. That particular window has 13
blue and gold stones in it. Some of these were installed, some were removed during
remodeling projects. Some of them were never used. I’ve never seen a collection
to rival Sarah’s anywhere, not here, not in Europe. The so-called aesthetic
movement was in high gear here, it was just an explosion
of creative energy. This fireplace contains so many
different decorative media. It’s got beautiful decorative tiles, it’s got carved wood,
it’s got beveled crystal. It was art for the sake of art was what this movement embraced. This was the decorative
art, windows, textiles, hardware, wallpaper. This is your first example of the Lincrusta Walton wallcovering. Sarah loved Lincrusta. This was something
elegant for the wealthy, and it was used in places
like rooms in the White House, it was used in staterooms on the Titanic. You can see three
different patterns in here, and you can see how elegant
it can make a room look. She started putting it all over the house, on the walls, you’ll
find it on the ceilings, in combination with wood paneling. You can see that wonderful
Lincrusta in some of the panels, it looks kind of like a
cosmic explosion up there. The grand ballroom supposedly
cost about $9,000 to build. The floor is beautiful in here. The edges have rosewood, oak, ash, maple. The interesting thing in this room you might wanna take a look at, behind this beautiful carved door is a very utilitarian metal
door, behind that is a safe, another door, finally,
the interior of the safe. She was protecting something in here, and, according to legend, when she died, all they found was the
obituaries of her husband and daughter, and a lock of
her baby daughter’s hair. Sarah and William only
had one child named Annie, who sadly died when she was
only about six weeks’ old. 15 years later, William
himself died of tuberculosis. Sarah pretty much grieved
for the rest of her life. It was very difficult for her. We’re going to head to the seance room. This is, according to legend, where Sarah would
communicate with the spirits. Spiritualism was a huge movement
during her entire lifetime. It started in Europe,
came to the United States, and was fed by the Civil War. Women were losing their sons, their brothers, their husbands, and they were looking
for some kind of solace. She wasn’t unusual if she practiced it. This exit was built to
look like a cabinet. It is actually an exit that leads into the
closet of the next room. The house itself has 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, it has 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases. Through the doorway here you can see another one of Sarah’s
architectural oddities. Staircase begins here, goes
up, turns and ends right there. Although Sarah’s house is unusual and it teems with unexpected corners and stairways that go
nowhere and things like that, it really was, in many
ways, very well thought-out. Sarah was a very petite woman,
she stood four foot ten. She also suffered from
rheumatoid arthritis, which, in her later years,
made it impossible for her to lift her feet more than a
couple of inches off the floor, so she devised these small steps, and we call them easy risers. She worked things so that
the world adapted to her. She had, for example, three
elevators in her home. She was constantly trying out new ideas. During Sarah’s life, most
people used bathtubs. She ordered a special shower to be made. It was being advertised
as a needle shower, and the water came out from little holes in those U-shaped pipes. And, generally, in those days, women weren’t encouraged to shower. Picture the tiny Sarah with
her rheumatoid arthritis trying to get into a bathtub. It would have been horrible. So this would have been a
godsend for someone like her. Plumbing was extravagant for the time, and one of the things she did
was to put faucets everywhere. She loved gardening and she had these two
indoor conservatories where, as she got older, she could
garden here in the house and not have to go outside. This room in particular is
interesting because of the floor. She had wonderful systems
for watering her plants, where she could lift up her floorboards and put the plants down on
an underfloor made of metal, water the plants on the
floor, and it would then the water be carried away
by special drainpipes. (dreamy harpsichord music) You’ll notice there is a
hose reel and a faucet. Garden hoses were a brand new innovation. She not only seemed to
wanna make her life better, but her servants’ as well. In order to keep her
maids from having to be constantly sweeping
dust out of the corners, she put these little corner pieces in, so that the dirt never gets in there. You have built-in laundry trays. They have built-in scrub
boards, built-in soap holders, and hot and cold running water. And this was state of
the art at that time. Every fireplace, except for the gas, has a very clever door in the bottom, but all the ash goes down a tube, ends up in the basement somewhere, and there’s a little door down there that you can then clean out. – I guess today you’d
call her an early adapter. There are systems that
she could communicate with her team throughout the house. – She could press a button
like this anywhere in the house and bell would ring,
(bell buzzing) and a number would drop into the window, and that would tell the servants where they could find Sarah in the house. She also had a system
of call tubes that went through the walls, and you could actually hear people, say, on the fourth floor, talking to you down on the ground floor. So you would be aware if
someone wanted to talk to you, the bell would ring,
you’d come to the tube, and it’s perfectly audible. They would send them down to
the basement, these tubes. Then they would shoot across, you know, under the house, and then come up in the part of the house
where she wanted them. – Sarah Winchester was a true pioneer. She was a woman ahead of her time. – I think she just enjoyed
the process so much, she just wanted to keep on working. So she would get different ideas and they would try them out, and if it worked, great, if not, they would tear it
down and try something new. – You know, in Sarah
Winchester’s lifetime, this house was in a
constant state of becoming. You know, for 38 years
construction never stopped. Sarah Winchester would
be so proud to know that, for 93 years, millions of
guests have come into her home and admired it and been inspired by it, and, for the next 93 years,
that’s gonna continue.

100 comments

  1. Ahhh. The good old days. My first job. I had some wild ass times working at that house. Made some awesome friends. My favorite thing to do in the house besides giving the tours was cleaning time, when some of the guides would break up slow days and clean. If you think its truly haunted, it's not really. Peaceful actually. Nice and quiet and beautiful on sunny winter days. Cleaning the ballroom was always fun with my headphones on and just slipping around. Of course the 3rd floor is the least appealing, but it was the servants quarters after all, and also mostly blocked off by really hard to see through glary reflected window panels. I enjoyed working at the WMH. Good ass times man.

  2. The Winchester Mystery House. It’s an amazing.. stunning place.. Been there a couple of times.. an experience you’ll never forget.. I’ve never seen anything like it! Excellent video..thanks for sharing.

  3. It’s nice to see people showcasing the innovative aspects of her house. She was a woman ahead of the times.

  4. I loved that it was about her and not about the crazy ghost fearing nut job people make her out to be

  5. I visit this home every time I go back home for a visit. I can never get enough. I love to be taken back in time and envision how life used to be. This home is an absolute architectural marvel. Sarah was so innovative.

  6. Mrs Winchester wasn't insane! She's innovative to make it easy for her house staff. An employer would never thought of making a servant's life less unbearable At least in her time.

  7. Living in San Jose for 8 years back in the early 2000's…this house is one of my most fondest memories of the area.

  8. Sarah was a woman after my own heart! Embrace ALL THE TECHNOLOGY! Who cares if women aren't "supposed" to do it! And be kind to everyone. I think she must have been a truly lovely person. Also that stained glass window with the crystal in it is stunning.

  9. I’ve been there and it definitely had some creepy vibes to it but it was a really interesting house! Tiny stairs, doors that go to nowhere, big stairs, stairs that go to nowhere. It was a very neat house. Everyone should go see it!

  10. When I was a kid in the 80’s we toured the house and it was presented then as she kept building because she thought when she stopped she would die, hence doors and staircases to nowhere just to keep the building going.

  11. I went there on June 19th and it was so awesome and beautiful! Love the history and elegance of it 👌🏼

  12. I’m glad to see so many similar comments in that this documentary shows Sarah as an innovator not a frightened nor psychotic widow. Bravo!

  13. The mansion is so amazing but I can’t imagine being lost in that house… it might took forever for me to find my room 😂

  14. I have read and watched countless stories about this house .. This is the first time I have seen this side to it . So interesting , what an amazing woman she was ! So ahead of her time ! Its good to learn more about her instead of the haunting side to her stories .. I still wonder why she never stopped building though .

  15. the seance room looks big in this video but it really is only 8 ft by 8ft. super small, and there is two doors out of that room and one door way in.

  16. This house is so beautiful ,i kinda feel i have seen it in my dream where i was a little girl playing with my friends

  17. This is the first time I’ve heard of Sarah Winchester referred to as an innovative pioneer and not some crazy, insane, haunted, troubled woman. Thank you for this respectful depiction!!

  18. I have earlier read somewhere about her and how she kept on building her house. Yes I have even read the ones where it was claimed she was haunted by the people who died of Winchester rifle. But this video has been an absolute breath of fresh air which shows what an amazingly compassionate person she was and her love for architecture, plants and stained glasses. This place has always been in my list of places to visit. And her collection of stained glasses was beautiful. I hope I am lucky enough to visit this beauty once in my life time. And I hope aside from the haunted tours this place gets tours for the architectural wonder this place is.

  19. My Dad grew up in this town, and his friends dad worked here. The friend and his friends hid in the house scaring visitors. LOL They were not supposed to, just bad kids

  20. I wunt to see it so badly.Tell thin thanks for sharing it to me🤗👍🤔🤗😉👍👍👍🔑🗝️‼️😊🤗☺️

  21. I used to come here as a kid. My mom worked at the shopping center across the street in the 80s before they tore it down to make santana row

  22. I don't think that she was crazy, I think she just had a profound appreciation for classical design and probably built this house as a hobby…

  23. What a wonderful lady she was. What a great home she was building .I would love to see more of it .cool video

  24. So did anyone ever ask the workers why she built the home that way. People that worked there probably knew something.

  25. its nice to watch this… its a different piont of view… makes you want to appreciate Sarah and the house more… other videos only focused on the paranormal side… No offense I like those too… but I even love this video more

  26. I love this house so much. I’ve been intrigued with it since I was a child. Thank you so much for the in depth information about the house itself. Such an amazing place I hope to visit one day.

  27. Such a beautiful and genius house. And the owner is a perfect combination of beauty with brains. Gorgeous.

  28. Maybe she wanted to do many things and got confused which ended in a house that was not built in an organized and planned manner.That said the house has so many innovative stuff…she definitely time travelled

  29. Those are Tiffany and co window glasses. I went into that spirit room and gaves me headache three days. She's has bullet floor. There is so much about this mansion.

  30. You dont pocket anything in that house. No souvenirs. A dude took a couple of inexpensive items. He flew back home. Heard dogs in his basement barking. He has no dogs. He sent the stuff back and apologized. They dont know where her wine cellar is. Sealed off after sarah seen a black handprint down there. Sarah saved rain water flowing down the roof. Author haunts of san jose

  31. One of my very favorite places. I've toured at least 5 times (including the Behind The Scenes tour) and always see something new. I hope Sarah rests in peace as she has left us a rare and wonderful gift.

  32. Building a castle takes time…I love this house, exceptionally creative and original…she must have been bored and got a lot of money to play with…I love the music…This channel respected the house it deserves.

  33. Look. Sarah had to keep people employed and she had the cash to do it. I've been inside and there's no ghostly presences. There are beautiful details and Tiffany stained glass windows. Wonderful.

  34. I was there just last week. I've wanted to visit the Winchester House since I was 10. Very cool to see. Like many people, I am so glad to see a video about the house that doesn't have all of the ghost misinformation. The people in this video and employees when I was there, really seem to play down the 'haunted' aspect of the house.
    Also when I was there I got the impression that Sarah Winchester was a very practical and intelligent woman. And just like the lady in the video says, I think Sarah would experiment in her construction. Things she designed that worked, she kept, and things that didn't work, she'd just try again somewhere else. She had the brains and the money, why not?

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