The 13th Floor

Newfound Photo May Reveal Origins of the Winchester Mystery House

Long before the release of the film WINCHESTER, we’ve covered the bizarre history and otherworldly legends of San Jose, CA’s infamous “Mystery House” on this site [here’s a detailed look at the mansion, its designer and the house’s ominous legacy]. But a new revelation from the house’s curators could potentially cast a new light on the house’s bizarre beginnings.

Image Credit: iStock/cwinegarden

According to the Winchester’s official Instagram account, a historian on staff came across a single image in the History San Jose archives, depicting a modest Victorian farmhouse — which they claim contains “many recognizable features in the design” that are “uncannily similar” to the front section of the colossal mansion as it stands today.

If their theory is correct, what we’re seeing here is the more traditional-looking inception of what would eventually become a sprawling, 160-room behemoth, designed seemingly at random by Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester gun fortune.

But there’s an even more intriguing aspect to this photograph. We can see at least two people in the image — a young woman on horseback, and an older woman sitting on a bench to the far right.

Could one of them be Mrs. Winchester herself? The curators seem inclined to think so.

Image Credit: Winchester Mystery House via Instagram

“It’s quite possible they are Mrs. Winchester on the bench and her favorite niece Marion on the horse,” they note on the image post, “making this the 2nd known photo of Mrs. Winchester on her estate.”

Sarah Winchester is believed to have overseen construction on the house for the duration of her life — allegedly to satisfy the restless ghosts of people killed by Winchester weapons.

Image Credit: iStock/SpVVK

Construction on the property was said to have continued day and night, expanding an otherwise ordinary eight-room Victorian farmhouse (much like the one in the newly-found photo) to nightmarish proportions, adding rooms and corridors of all sizes and shapes, constructed at strange angles, with thousands of windows, doors and stairs leading to nowhere.