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Stairway to the ceiling at the Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House: Perfectly peculiar

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postedApril 1, 2020

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is just the type of mansion students love: beautiful but bizarre.

Sarah Pardee Winchester, heiress of the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune, began building the home in 1884, and construction didn’t stop for 38 years, until her death in 1922. Ms. Winchester, said to be haunted by the guilt of lives lost to the Winchester rifle, designed the dizzying Victorian-style structure with many quirky features: doors that open to walls, stairways that lead to the ceiling, and an assortment of other oddities.

The massive 160-room mansion has been open to the public since 1923, and groups can take guided tours of the estate every day except Christmas. (Another exception is a temporary closure during the coronavirus crisis, but if you’re curious, you can take a virtual tour at

To get details, email Nathan Emmett or visit

Top photo: Stairway to the ceiling at the Winchester Mystery House
Photo by Winchester Mystery House


Support for Courier articles provided by:
American Writers Museum
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The National World War II Museum
Salem Witch Museum
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
USS Midway Museum
Winchester Mystery House