Monday, August 20, 2007

A Repeating Mystery

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California just south of San Francisco, is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum surrounded by a mystery. It's bizarre and beautiful.

The story goes like this: Sarah Winchester outlived her husband, who made a fortune selling firearms. Soon she was told by a spiritualist that she was cursed because of the terrible loss of life these repeating firearms represented. So she did the only thing that made sense...she began construction in 1884 and never stopped 24/7/365 for thirty-eight years to appease the angry ghosts.

What emerged after her death was a 160 room mansion filled with modern conveniences and strange architectural designs. Tiffany stained glass, gold and silver chandeliers and three elevators are a tribute to wealth, taste and style while stairs that lead nowhere, doors that open into walls and repetitive patterns of windows stop you in your tracks. What is going on here? Only Sarah Winchester knew. My creepiest moment was in the Blue Seance room where we stood silently together looking for an exit. There seemed to be no knobs or means of opening the doors from the inside. Finally, our guide revealed the hidden latch and we were free. But for just a moment, I felt like I was back there with Sarah, calling the spirits forward and trying to figure out what to build next.

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