Beyond the Ghost Stories of the Winchester Mystery House
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Beyond the Ghost Stories of the Winchester Mystery House

(gentle piano music) – [Walter] Winchester Mystery
House is a crown jewel in the Santa Clara Valley. – This house, an amazing house, was built by Sarah Lockwood Pardee, who married into the Winchester family. – This place has been
open for tour since 1923. – You’re going to see
unusual things, like this. – [Walter] There’s architecture, there’s incredible craftsmanship,
it’s a very unique house. – Some people believe that
these were Sarah’s methods for dealing with unfriendly
ghosts, baffling the spirits. We don’t really know. After 36 years of remodeling, maybe these are just a few
of her building mistakes. – It’s an incredible story, you know, it’s a true American story. – Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester was the heiress to the Winchester fortune, and she came out to
California in about 1884-85, and she bought herself a little house and started a grand remodeling project. (adventurous Western music) And it never really ended. So, is everybody ready
to discover the unusual, the bizarre, and the beautiful? The house once stood seven stories high. The 1906 earthquake caused a
great deal of structural damage to the top floors of the house. Sarah was terrified. At that time, all of this was removed, she took all of it away. And, after that, she
built out instead of up. This house grew over
the years to encompass about 24,000 square feet of space. We can’t be sure, there’s no
blueprints, there’s no plans. It’s not just big, it’s huge. (mysterious electronic music) The exterior is American
Queen Anne, no question. It was almost as if they had a checklist. Turrets, check, columns,
check, finials, check. It’s Queen Anne, but the
interior is absolutely aesthetic movement.
(jaunty piano music) So during the aesthetic movement,
they didn’t see any reason why useful, everyday objects
shouldn’t be beautiful. They felt that beautiful surroundings were morally uplifting, they improved
people’s quality of life. And so they decorated
things, and not just, you know, things you would
expect to be decorated, doorknobs with wonderful designs on them. Hinges, everywhere you
look there’s something that has a special detail to it. That radiator, aside from being useful, is also kind of pretty. You’ll find natural
images: leaves, flowers, inspects, birds. Sometimes it’s playful, sometimes it’s reminiscent
of another culture. Persian, Moorish, Egyptian, Greek, and especially Japanese. You’ll see bamboo, all sorts
of Asian painted wallpaper. We recently reinstalled
the original mantelpieces, they’re japanned, which
means they’re painted black, and then they have incised
decoration painted gold, decorative tiles with the cherry blossoms, the sunflowers in the vases
with the fish images on them. You can see there’s
also some of the finest stained glass windows in
the house right there. The Japanese influence
was very asymmetrical, which is another aesthetic motif. Another aspect of
Sarah’s decorating genius was her love of stained glass. She actually ordered about 25 windows that were all variations on a theme. And this is an example of one of her beautiful stained glass windows. They say it’s the most
expensive one in the mansion. It’s not only beveled crystal, it’s got what they call zipper cuts all around the edges to detail it. I mean, this is fine craftsmanship. That particular window has 13
blue and gold stones in it. Some of these were installed, some were removed during
remodeling projects. Some of them were never used. I’ve never seen a collection
to rival Sarah’s anywhere, not here, not in Europe. The so-called aesthetic
movement was in high gear here, it was just an explosion
of creative energy. This fireplace contains so many
different decorative media. It’s got beautiful decorative tiles, it’s got carved wood,
it’s got beveled crystal. It was art for the sake of art was what this movement embraced. This was the decorative
art, windows, textiles, hardware, wallpaper. This is your first example of the Lincrusta Walton wallcovering. Sarah loved Lincrusta. This was something
elegant for the wealthy, and it was used in places
like rooms in the White House, it was used in staterooms on the Titanic. You can see three
different patterns in here, and you can see how elegant
it can make a room look. She started putting it all over the house, on the walls, you’ll
find it on the ceilings, in combination with wood paneling. You can see that wonderful
Lincrusta in some of the panels, it looks kind of like a
cosmic explosion up there. The grand ballroom supposedly
cost about $9,000 to build. The floor is beautiful in here. The edges have rosewood, oak, ash, maple. The interesting thing in this room you might wanna take a look at, behind this beautiful carved door is a very utilitarian metal
door, behind that is a safe, another door, finally,
the interior of the safe. She was protecting something in here, and, according to legend, when she died, all they found was the
obituaries of her husband and daughter, and a lock of
her baby daughter’s hair. Sarah and William only
had one child named Annie, who sadly died when she was
only about six weeks’ old. 15 years later, William
himself died of tuberculosis. Sarah pretty much grieved
for the rest of her life. It was very difficult for her. We’re going to head to the seance room. This is, according to legend, where Sarah would
communicate with the spirits. Spiritualism was a huge movement
during her entire lifetime. It started in Europe,
came to the United States, and was fed by the Civil War. Women were losing their sons, their brothers, their husbands, and they were looking
for some kind of solace. She wasn’t unusual if she practiced it. This exit was built to
look like a cabinet. It is actually an exit that leads into the
closet of the next room. The house itself has 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, it has 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases. Through the doorway here you can see another one of Sarah’s
architectural oddities. Staircase begins here, goes
up, turns and ends right there. Although Sarah’s house is unusual and it teems with unexpected corners and stairways that go
nowhere and things like that, it really was, in many
ways, very well thought-out. Sarah was a very petite woman,
she stood four foot ten. She also suffered from
rheumatoid arthritis, which, in her later years,
made it impossible for her to lift her feet more than a
couple of inches off the floor, so she devised these small steps, and we call them easy risers. She worked things so that
the world adapted to her. She had, for example, three
elevators in her home. She was constantly trying out new ideas. During Sarah’s life, most
people used bathtubs. She ordered a special shower to be made. It was being advertised
as a needle shower, and the water came out from little holes in those U-shaped pipes. And, generally, in those days, women weren’t encouraged to shower. Picture the tiny Sarah with
her rheumatoid arthritis trying to get into a bathtub. It would have been horrible. So this would have been a
godsend for someone like her. Plumbing was extravagant for the time, and one of the things she did
was to put faucets everywhere. She loved gardening and she had these two
indoor conservatories where, as she got older, she could
garden here in the house and not have to go outside. This room in particular is
interesting because of the floor. She had wonderful systems
for watering her plants, where she could lift up her floorboards and put the plants down on
an underfloor made of metal, water the plants on the
floor, and it would then the water be carried away
by special drainpipes. (dreamy harpsichord music) You’ll notice there is a
hose reel and a faucet. Garden hoses were a brand new innovation. She not only seemed to
wanna make her life better, but her servants’ as well. In order to keep her
maids from having to be constantly sweeping
dust out of the corners, she put these little corner pieces in, so that the dirt never gets in there. You have built-in laundry trays. They have built-in scrub
boards, built-in soap holders, and hot and cold running water. And this was state of
the art at that time. Every fireplace, except for the gas, has a very clever door in the bottom, but all the ash goes down a tube, ends up in the basement somewhere, and there’s a little door down there that you can then clean out. – I guess today you’d
call her an early adapter. There are systems that
she could communicate with her team throughout the house. – She could press a button
like this anywhere in the house and bell would ring,
(bell buzzing) and a number would drop into the window, and that would tell the servants where they could find Sarah in the house. She also had a system
of call tubes that went through the walls, and you could actually hear people, say, on the fourth floor, talking to you down on the ground floor. So you would be aware if
someone wanted to talk to you, the bell would ring,
you’d come to the tube, and it’s perfectly audible. They would send them down to
the basement, these tubes. Then they would shoot across, you know, under the house, and then come up in the part of the house
where she wanted them. – Sarah Winchester was a true pioneer. She was a woman ahead of her time. – I think she just enjoyed
the process so much, she just wanted to keep on working. So she would get different ideas and they would try them out, and if it worked, great, if not, they would tear it
down and try something new. – You know, in Sarah
Winchester’s lifetime, this house was in a
constant state of becoming. You know, for 38 years
construction never stopped. Sarah Winchester would
be so proud to know that, for 93 years, millions of
guests have come into her home and admired it and been inspired by it, and, for the next 93 years,
that’s gonna continue.


  • Michaela G.

    Imagine you and your friends playing hide and seek, and then it takes many hours looking for them. 😂 The house is huge, beautiful but it seems so creepy at the same time. 😊
    2019 anyone?

  • singergrrl77

    This is a very elegant creative and informative piece I am so intrigued by this house and if I ever well enough to travel again I really really want to see this it’s on my bucket list I love how elegantly and intelligently the curator got her home explains everything in detail I am absolutely a member of the aesthetic movement I believe that even useful things should be beautiful I detest how utilitarian and ugly things are made today without any concern for aesthetucs and beauty. I think I would cry if I want to see the house I adore architecture and all the tiny little details and nuances that make up homes and churches buildings sculptures fountains and any other structure that pays attention to beauty especially in Europe I couldn’t get enough. Today we don’t care enough about beauty and the finer details it’s all about cutting corners and cost. People think this stuff is Gothic ugly and overdone but I don’t I just love how you can look at some thing time and time again and find a new little detail you never noticed before I’m sure it to this day the curators and volunteers are finding new little things they probably never found before!!!

  • Johanna Hidalgo

    I had been looking for exactly this, a walking, talking tour through the Winchester house,thanks! I almost gave up on finding it, and with a spit on architectural details and aspects if the lady's life! Great!!!😉

  • I am Beverage

    She sounds like she was a fun woman! I imagine she just enjoyed the motion of life, and the constant change as well. Like she saw problems and could think of solutions. A creative thinker 🙂

  • Dana Harvey

    I wish they would show more of the house on the tour. I guess they only have so much time, but it would still be cool to take an extended tour. Fascinating old house.

  • loverrlee

    When I visited this house for the first time, I was blown away! Even though I was born in the same city the Winchester house was built, I had moved away very young and I had never actually been able to visit until I was 28! I instantly fell in love with the house, and I really felt a connection to Sarah. We share a lot of the same interests. She had a very creative mind. But I was there with my mother-in-law and I will never forget when she called Sarah “crazy.” 🙄 I think she was a genius! But I guess most geniuses have been called “crazy.” It takes a special kind of mind to create a lasting impact on this world, even after death. Some people just can’t appreciate fine art and craftsmanship I guess. Luckily I think most people would disagree with my incredibly negative MIL. Nobody who wasn’t considered “crazy” ever changed the world. ❤️

  • aramanth

    The Amazing Sarah!✨ Those decorative corner inserts for the stairs! Genius!
    This presentation was wonderful… it makes her less of an eccentric… like the
    stairs that rise only one floor but has seven turns.. not creepy at all when it is
    explained it was for Sarah's benefit for ease of walking. Never knew that!

    The interiors are lush and an amazing cross section of styles. I read somewhere
    that there were rooms in the lighting didn't cast shadows… presumably to not
    offend the ghosts who could not cast shadows either…

    Nice work!

  • Gina Thomas

    I so LOVE this house. So much so that my husband asked me what I was aaah-ing about!
    Sad about her baby and her husband.
    Need to look up where she got her money – appreciate if someone could tell me.

  • 16kirsy

    this is truly the best video i've ever seen on the winchester house. if you havent taken the tour, it greatly resembles this video – so much so that i suggest that small children don't take the tour, as it's fairly historical and otherwise boring to people looking for a ghost story. i wish they'd talk more about preservation efforts, bc those have got to be significant.

  • BadKitty NoMilk

    I've been to that place several time as a child. One of my favorite places. Good memories. I was so curious and amazed.

  • Cinzabeary

    This makes so much more sense. Ghost stories are fun. But this house was someone's life and Sarah really loved that house. I first heard about the Winchester house from paranormal television and hosts would go on about her building like a maniac just to hide from ghosts she feared. I think that's a myth all together. The design is just too planned out for it to be designed in a panic. Even if she was doing seances that was a highly popular activity to do in her time. I believe it was a phony psychic who visited that told a Sarah there were spirits of those killed by her husbands rifles that were haunting her house. But I think she built for the sake of loving it.

  • Loli-Pop

    I really feel the collection geek vibes from her. Just like any one of us get a thrill from buying the next game or a new outfit, she probably felt the same about renovations. I know there's a ghost story reason for her building those buildings, but I feel like the fear of dying probably isn't as imminent as the fear of sadness and loneliness and as long as she had something to do and people to help her she'd probably feel very happy.

  • Clariza Buama

    The only ones who would be scared of these are the minimalists. 🤣 jk
    On a more serious note, this video was made so beautifully.

  • Carla Rollins

    My family and I went to the Winchester and were totally blown away! We were in awe over architectural genius…it’s really something to see! Good video for once talking about this woman’s life as she truly was…instead of just all the crazy ghost stories…👍🏼

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