Sarah had inherited a fortune upon the death of her husband, a member of the Winchester rifle family. According to newspaper accounts, a medium told Sarah that she must build a home for the spirits of people killed by Winchester guns. If she ever stopped construction, Sarah would die.
Whether this story was true or not, Sarah did move from Connecticut to construct her so-called “Mystery House” in California.
The sprawling mansion, famous even during Sarah’s lifetime, would reach 7 stories high, with 160 rooms. Built without a master plan, the house had strange staircases, secret passageways, doors that opened to nowhere, and other unusual features—which some people said were meant to confuse the ghosts.
Learn more about the Winchester Mystery House through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.