The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California has been a popular tourist attraction for many decades, and its bizarre and spooky history has made it one of America's most famous haunted homes.
According to legend, Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearms tycoon William Winchester, was told by a psychic medium that the family estate was cursed by the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles. The only way Sarah could escape the curse, so the story goes, was to move west from Boston to California and build a new house... and keep on building it, non-stop, for the rest of her life. It seems she took this advice very seriously, supervising round-the-clock construction on the property from its groundbreaking in 1884 until her death in 1922.
Along with the paranormal rumors, the house's strange reputation also comes from the seemingly random pattern of construction (there were never any blueprints), which includes dead-end corridors, secret passages, and stairways that suddenly double back or lead outside the building. The randomness is allegedly due to Winchester's attempt to outwit or confuse the ghosts which wandered the mansion's halls.
It's been said she even conducted nightly séances to protect herself from the spirits as she worked on the building plans (the “séance room” is one of the house's attractions), and many of the house structures are based around variations of the number 13, possibly in an attempt to ward off troubled spirits.
But is the Mystery House really haunted? That remains to be seen, but there have been numerous reports of strange phenomena in the house over the years. Many paranormal investigators (including legendary showman Harry Houdini) have visited the mansion to determine if spirits were present, and the building's caretakers have reported strange, unexplained occurrences... including the sound of breathing in Sarah Winchester's bedroom.
But the report doesn`t end here.
In July 2012, a video surfaced showing a chandelier at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose unexplainably shaking for several minutes. The phenomenon has spooked some people who work at the mansion.
Chris Turner, a staff member who was the only eyewitness, said the incident occurred three weeks ago before closing time. He recorded 18 seconds of video of the chandelier from behind a glass door.
Turner showed fellow staffer Lindsey Huffman, Winchester Mystery House’s Marketing Coordinator.
“We weren’t having an earthquake,” Huffman said. “There’s nothing to explain what was happening.”
Tour guide Suzanne Hirsh told Huffman that she and four visitors saw another chandelier swaying in another room moments before.
“She’s white as a ghost,” Huffman said. “At this point, both parties didn’t realize they’d experienced the same thing at the same time at different parts of the mansion.”
KPIX 5 showed some tourists the video. “I’m undecided. I need to see it for myself,” said Claire Shanley of Bend, Oregon.
“The place is haunted right?” asked Tiffany Babinsky of Columbus, Ohio. She said she thought a ghost was to blame.
“I think it’s the air conditioning,” concluded Melissa Adams of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Huffman said there is no air conditioning at the house or evidence of a prank.
As the story goes, this 160-room mansion with its doors to nowhere and bizarre hallways is home to spirits that the late Sarah Winchester consulted to counter a curse.
“It was very scary,” said Huffman. “Once in a while we’ll get a door closing or lights flickering but this is the most substantial experience employees have felt at this house in a few years.”
In fact, the tour guide who saw the chandelier shaking told Huffman she refuses to lead the last tour anymore.
Story: CBS San Francisco