The Winchester Mystery House

In 1886, an eccentric woman named Sarah Winchester traveled from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Jose, California, to start a new life. She purchased a small 8-room farmhouse and started a renovation project that would end up lasting 36 years and costing $5.5 million (over $140 million today), only stopping when she passed away in 1922. By the time it was finished, the Winchester Mystery House was a modern marvel with indoor plumbing, multiple elevators, a hot shower, and central heating. Of course, that’s not all that’s unique about the house. Not all of the 2,000 doors can be walked through — one leads to an 8-foot drop to a kitchen sink, another to a 15-foot drop into bushes is the garden below. In fact, there are more secret passages in Winchester Mystery House than Narnia. No one is quite sure why Mrs. Winchester demanded constant changes to her very large house, but the more prevalent theory is that she was being haunted by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle, which her late husband’s company had invented. As the story goes, to avoid them she would sleep in a different bedroom every night and take labyrinthine paths through her own home. Today, the mansion is available to tour. The Mansion Tour and Explore More Tour range $20 to $39, though children under 9 are not permitted on the Explore More Tour. The Garden tour is free.