Take a Virtual Tour of the Winchester Mystery House, Sans Ghosts

published Mar 29, 2020
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exterior of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California
Credit: Top Photo Corporation/Shutterstock

If you’re tired of getting lost in Netflix’s library of movies and TV series, why not try getting lost in one of the most haunted places on Earth?

The Winchester Mystery House in California’s Bay Area has long been a favorite destination of ghost hunters and thrill seekers. It’s not hard to see why. The labyrinthian home features 160 rooms spanning 24,000 square feet, including 40 staircases, 47 fireplaces, and 10,000 windows. It has the most bizarre and confusing layout, with doors that open to walls and stairs that lead to nowhere.

According to legend, Sarah Winchester, heiress to the popular rifle company, bought the property in 1884 and would continually add features to her home, eschewing blueprints, over the course of 38 years until her death in 1922. Many believe that she never allowed construction work to stop to ward off vengeful spirits killed by Winchester rifles. 

Nearly a hundred years after its eccentric owner’s passing, the Mystery House has temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, to “continue her legacy and keep the history and intrigue of the house alive,” as general manager Walter Magnuson put it, the San Jose landmark is now offering a free virtual tour. Available from now until April 7, the tour lasts 40 minutes and includes a short history of the property and some pretty interesting (read: strange) stories.

Looking for even more haunting tales? There’s a movie based on the Winchester legend starring Helen Mirren. You can also check out this ghost-themed podcast, or our very own readers’ scary stories: an Oregon Trail ghost, a haunted restaurant, and a spirit with musical talent.