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From the legendary streets of San Francisco to the vast vineyards of, Napa Valley, there are plenty of reasons to visit Northern California. But for people who enjoy all things creepy and mysterious, San Jose has one of the most fascinating and unsettling attractions in the world - the Winchester Mystery House.

San Jose's Winchester Mystery House

From the legendary streets of San Francisco to the vast vineyards of, Napa Valley, there are plenty of reasons to visit Northern California. But for people who enjoy all things creepy and mysterious, San Jose has one of the most fascinating and unsettling attractions in the world - the Winchester Mystery House.

William Wirt Winchester was the millionaire gun magnate of the 1800s who founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866. His widow, Sarah Winchester, became extremely depressed after her husband's death and visited a psychic medium in Boston to see what her future might be.

As a result of her visit to the medium, Winchester became convinced that she and the money she inherited from her late husband were cursed. She believed that she was haunted by the spirits of the people who died from wounds inflicted by Winchester rifles and that building them a "never-ending" house was the only way to get the spirits to leave her alone.

Construction on the house began in 1884 and continued nonstop 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for 38 years until Sarah Winchester died in 1922. While there were basic plans drawn up for the house, much of the construction was improvised on a daily basis.

The interior of the house was purposely designed with several dead-end hallways and staircases. It also has a number of door and windows that open up to brick walls and secret passages that go nowhere. These were all part of Sarah Winchester's plan to confuse and trap the spirits she believed were haunting her.

The house is massively extensive and has over 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, and more than 10,000 windows, 17 chimneys, 2 basements, and 3 elevators. The total cost of the house came to just over $5 million when construction stopped in 1922. That amount would have been the equivalent of about $75 million in 2012.

It is impossible to articulate the feeling that visitors get when they take a guided tour of the Winchester House. The interior layout with its dead-end hallways and staircases combined with its intriguing history make it a truly creepy but supremely fascinating northern California tourist destination.

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