Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Winchester House - San Jose, California

For Fuzzy's birthday, we traveled to San Jose, California to drive down the coast to Los Angeles to spend New Year's Eve with friends.  Our first stop was the mysterious Winchester House in San Jose.  In the late 19th century, Sarah Winchester, who married into the Winchester family, lost her husband and young daughter both suddenly, tragically and within a relatively short amount of time.  She consulted a psychic who told her that her family had been taken by the spirits of people killed by Winchester weapons.  She was advised to move west and build a house but never finish it.  This would confuse those spirits and save her from the same fate. 

She had carpenters and workers around the clock working on the house for 38 years until her death in 1922, with some very interesting aspects: doors that open to walls, a stairway that leads to the ceiling, etc. No pictures were allowed in the house but I could take all I wanted outside.

The tank house.

The fruit drying shed - The evaporator could dry 1 1/2 tons of prunes every 30 hours, very modern for its day.

Hebe and Demeter. 

Some of the hedges were shaped to resemble the decorations on the gables of the house. 

The famous Serpent Fountain.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the house:  The Door to Nowhere - a second story door that opens to the outside.  Watch that first step, mac!  It's a lulu!

Sarah Winchester had many Tiffany stained-glass windows.

The chimney in this spot fell during the 1906 earthquake that destroyed San Francisco.  Sarah thought it was those spirits of vengeance telling her she was spending too much money on the front of the house.  She had her carpenters board up the front and start working elsewhere.  The chimney was never replaced.

The house was originally 3 miles west of San Jose but the city has closed in around the house.

The gardeners' shed.

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