Do you believe in ghosts?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009



As kids my sister and I were a little obsessed with the subject. My mom grew up on a small farm in Mexico and had the greatest bunch of scary stories and legends, she'd use them to entertain us and also to teach us valuable lessons: For instance, did you know that demons apparently take bad misbehaving kids by hiding behind trees and putting cute kittens out as bait? (My sister had a stray kitten phobia because of this one) We'd spend hours listening to her and my aunt tell frightening tales and begging for more (we had our favorites) and later that evening we’d lay in bed with the light on, afraid of the dark. So now that you know how deep our small ghost obsession runs, I'm sure you'll understand why last month when we took a ride up to San Jose California we had to stop and visit the house of Sarah L. Winchester who, as rumor goes, was said to be as obsessed as we were...

Sarah was the heiress of the Winchester Rifle fortune. In 1862 her daughter died and a couple of years after that her husband did also. Distraught by their deaths she went in search of answers with a psychic who told her that the cause of these tragedies were the ghosts of people killed by the famous Winchester rifle out for revenge and that if she wanted to save herself she had to move out west and begin building a never-ending house.

So Sarah moved to California (from Boston) and bought a small 8 room farmhouse and began building on it. The building continued 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next 38 years (a $5 million dollar cost) until her death in 1922. Theories as to why she constructed this huge and always changing house vary, but my favorite is that she wanted to confuse the spirits that were after her. The legend is that she would have a séance every night to learn what the spirits wanted her to build and that every night she’d take a different route to where she would sleep (not always her bedroom) so that the ghosts wouldn't follow her.




Without the help of any architects Sarah designed her house with a number of strange and mysterious quirks such as staircases that rose to nowhere but the ceiling and doors that opened to 8 foot drops ('door to nowhere' seen below)...



Staircases with 44 steps, each step only two inches high, that turn 9 times and only take you up 9 feet (there's a lot of 9's and 13's throughout the house)...



Room with a window in the floor:



The séance room had one entrance and three exits. One exit door lead to a sink and another opened to a 10 foot drop to the kitchen (shown below)...



Lots of spider web or dream catcher patterns throughout the house:



After she died they found in her safe locks of her husband's and infant daughter's hair along with copies of their obituaries. Her will provided for some servants and left the furniture to her niece, but made no mention about the house she'd spent so much time and money on.



Hope you're all having a wonderful week! I'm off to sleep, but I just may leave a light on now...

48 comments:

Lady Thirty said...

what an interesting story!
I love stories like this one and sure I believe in ghosts :)

take care!

TERI REES WANG said...

I am currently obsessed with the town of Summerland, the southern part of Santa Barabara, California.

There was two groups of folks who chose to settle in that same small town at the same time.
First where the "Spiritualists". A religious group who held seances to communicate with their elders to ask for guidance. They subdivided tiny lots, so all who chose to enjoy the view could by one lot for $25 that would suit a wagon and a tent, or a collection of lots to accommodate a Mansion.
The second were the oil men digging in the middle of the streets, disrupting the peaceful settlement to take advantage of the black gold that flowed in the veins running under the new neighborhood.

The local church/town meeting hall that became the famous family restaurant ..that has since shut down from the over population of ghosts...those of who remain from the feuding in the streets!

Crystal Ball said...

haha The first part of this post vividly reminds me of my Dad and my Abuelita. They, too, have told me some seriously creepy stories that they've accumulated while growing up in their rancho.
I've never been to the Winchester house but it is definitely on my to do list. It's such a crazy concept to think about, I can't wait to see it.
This is a wonderful post and very entertaining!

Gabbi said...

Thank you so much Lady Thirty, Teri and Crystal! It's good to know I'm not the only one who finds this interesting... :)

Teri, that town sounds fascinating and very close! I definitely have to visit soon now. Very scary.

And Crystal, your dad and abuelita must be just like my mom and aunt. One day we're going to have to exchange fright tales to see how many coincide... *scary music here*

Have a lovely Thursday girls!♥xo

muchlove said...

gosh, that is such a fascinating story, despite being a sad and eerie at the same time! She must have been one very clever lady to be able to design such a unique house. The outside structure looks very beautiful, actually.

btw, thanks for your comment and that Zapatos Canada ad! It was so fun to watch :) I doubt it's the same store as the one in Indonesia (there were hardly any international chain stores at that time), but I noticed the word "zapatos" sounds a lot like the Indonesian word for shoe ("sepatu"). Random, but interesting ;)

_nina_malvada_ said...

hola guapa!!!!

back from my holidays
(snif snif) back from greek islands(more snif snif)

how are u dear?

i love those carefully selected pics you put on your posts

(you reminded me the ghost stories my grandpa used to tell us about scary figures in the woods near our countryhouse)

SusannRomy said...

First of all: I really like your blog makeover!
Second of all: You are an incredible story teller! I enjoyed this post so much!
To answer your question, I do believe in ghosts, but I guess more in the romantic than in the scary way. Like, you seeing things that remind you of a certain person and makes you feel special. If that makes any sense.

natalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natalie said...

I love this post! The house looks amazing, I so want to visit it someday! Having seen "The Orphanage" recently and loved it, this post was just what I wanted to read! :)

Maddie said...

oh, LOVED reading this post! i remember seeing something about this on the history channel or something, but i didn't watch very long, i'm glad i know the whole story now :) i bet that was so neat walk through and take pictures! what a fun hobby! :) now i want to go watch some ghost movies and read ghost stories . . .

Dream Sequins said...

Spooky! This is why older houses creep me out.

Davy H said...

Do we know how the ghosts reacted? Were they bamboozled by all the false doors and windows and strangely-numbered stairs, or did all these devices make them twice as angry with Ms Winchester and so encourage a redoubling of their haunting efforts? I think we should be told. Great story!

Elizabeth Marie said...

Ohhh Gabbi I loved reading this...kind of got chills! Old houses creep me out too haha. I totally believe in ghosts. Or spirits. Or whatever :)

Happy Thursday love! XO

Rebecca said...

How exciting! I've heard about that house but never seen pictures before. The whole story is fascinating.

I don't believe in ghosts, but of course I'm *terrified* of them anyway. :)

LENORENEVERMORE said...

Heard about this house, amazing yet sad... Eeeck!...Tonight, I'll sleep with my light on & bring my dogs to the bed room!

xo*

down and out chic said...

eeeeek, my sense is she was more of a paranoid schizophrenic, but maybe that's so i won't have to sleep with the lights on tonight!

Hey Harriet said...

I hadn't heard of that house before. A fascinating story! All that ghostie stuff creeps me out a little. Thankfully I've never seen a ghost! Yes, good idea about leaving a light on. Just in case... ;)

Gabbi said...

~ I agree Anna! She had some really creative and modern inventions that she designed in her home too… some water conserving devices and a system she had made to call her servants to whatever room she was in. I wonder if her strange windows and doors were just a form of creative expression? Also, regarding the word shoes… must have some kind of root to it! That’s neat!

~ Welcome back Nina, I missed your awesome outfit posts! Can’t wait to see your lovely holiday photos… things are good here, busy with work but good! Ghosts near a country house sound scary! Hope your week is going really well, despite the holiday’s being over.♥xo

~ Thank you so much Elizabeth and Susann! I love the idea of romantic ghosts also dear Susann… I guess I sort of see that in memories of my grandparents and my uncle who passed away recently.

~ I love that movie Natalie! Such a good and rather scary movie… thank you! : )

~ That was the first place I ever saw it mentioned too Maddie! I love those ‘Most Haunted Places in America’ programs they have around Halloween… Glad I’m not the only one who enjoys a good scare. Thank you♥

~ Thank you Dream Sequins! I’m totally with you on that one… nice place to visit but I couldn’t live there either!

~ I completely agree with you on that Davy… my mind boggles at what she was trying to do or avoid? Hopefully the ghosts were all in her wild imagination… Thank you! : )

~ Me too Liz… even the photos look sort of eerie to me honestly! I don’t think I could live there. Hope you’ve had a lovely Thursday also and thank you so much for the great comment!xxo♥

~ Thank you Rebecca. Yeah, the whole ghost thing is a mystery to me too, but I still love a good ghost story. Hope you’ve had a great Thursday!

~ Thank you dear Lenore! ♥

~ Yeah, Christina! Lots of money and a wild imagination… good combo for a wacky house. Probably also a guilty conscious of where the money came from maybe? ♥

~ I’m with you Tracy, I can hear countless ghost stories, but definitely don’t want to see anything! : ) Thank you for your lovely comment and hope you’re having a wonderful week… so happy tomorrow is Friday!xo

Chrisy said...

What a fascinating woman...a movie needs to be made about her life...and that house! I really want to believe in ghosts...wish soooo much that I could see one...but my grandmother did send me a fantastic message 12 months after her death...on the anniversary I told her (well thought to her) that she had to send me a sign that day...waited all day...no sign...went to bed...couldn't sleep...went to kitchen for water...5 minutes to midnight..looked out the window and the big electricity grid that I could see in the distance (about 500 yards) just exploded! Yes exploded...sparks and lights everywhere! Black out everything in the area for hours but heck I had asked for it!

Gabbi said...

That's such an amazing occurrence Chrisy, your grandmother sent you a lovely sign. My uncle died a few years ago and the morning of his death my mother found one of her little parakeets dead in his cage. I think this was a sign.

Thank you so much for sharing about your grandmother.

miriam said...

hope you had a nice sleep!

that picture with the sign "door to nowhere" is a bit spooky..

Electro Geisha said...

wow. interesting, spooky and appealing... but freaky... strange feeling...

Fashion Moment said...

Amazing post & story, darling!

FM~FP~AF

Mujer imperfecta said...

Me ha encantado este post, tan misterioso... Me recuerdo a la peli de Amenabar "Los Otros"...

Couture Carrie said...

Gorgeous manse!

xoxox,
CC

drollgirl said...

oh man, i have always wanted to visit this place!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE THE STORY!!!!! and your pictures!!! and boy, that lady had some demons (pardon the expression). wow. i am glad i am not her, but her story is incredible, so is this house, and so is her legacy!

Hanako66 said...

I've always wanted to go see that house, the story is so crazy!

Gabbi said...

~ Yes, with the light one dear Miriam! :D That photograph and few others were spooky to me too… I wonder if it’s only my wild imagination? Hope you have a wonderful weekend my favorite insider.♥xo

~ Thank you so much Geisha and FM!! ♥♥

~ a mi tambien me recuerda de esa pelicula querida mujer! yo creo por lo del séance verdad? que tengas un buen fin de semana!

~ Merci dearest CC! I adore your recent pup and horse posts…. so adorable.♥

~ Me too dear Drollgirl, I’d wanted to visit for years! The tour was something like $20 but I thought it was completely worth it. I’m sort of hooked now though, do you know of any local haunted landmarks here in southern California?

~ You’d really like it dear Hanako, the house and gardens are truly lovely, despite the strange history.

Louie in Wonderland said...

What a fascinating story! The mansion is huge and gorgeous! Love the garden and the windows in the floor. It looks like it was a lot of fun!:)
Sincerely Louie, Ciao!

Rebecca said...

Wild stories! That place looks totally creepy. I'm not certain I believe in souls of people that have not passed on wandering this earth...but I think I do believe in evil spirits that masquerade as ghosts...which makes me completely frightened of them!

Mademoiselle Frou-Frou said...

how spooky and interesting!! that house has to be haunted..with all of its mysterious quirks!
xox
www.froufroufashionista.blogspot.com

Clau! said...

This sotry sounds familiar, maybe I saw it in some program or something... it is a great story though ;)

LiLu said...

Oooo, we were just talking about ghosts last night and swapped some awesome stories, but that is WAY cooler/more eerie...

Tina { Luphia Loves... } said...

that an interesting house & story!! would love to have visited it (although i do get scared easily)... :)

Gabbi said...

~ It was Louie, a lovely and quirky house despite it’s past. Thank you so much and hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

~ That’s a scary thought, but I think I believe in those too Rebecca… so creepy.

~ You’re right dear Frou-Frou!♥ Hope you're having a lovely weekend.

~ I first heard about it on television myself Clau, happy you liked it! Nice to know I’m not the only one with a like of ghost stories.

~ Swapping scary stories is such a fun thing to do with friends… sort of like playing spin the bottle or truth or dare right? Thank you Lilu!♥xo

~ It really is less scary in person dear Tina♥, thank you!

Keith said...

So fascinating. Great photos. I loved this post. Ghosts have always fascinated me. Not sure if I believe in them or not. Who knows. Hope you had a good weekend. Cheers!

June Paski said...

i believe ghost thats why i hate dark room, im always turn on my light >.<

xxx
june

Atomic Lola said...

Such an interesting story. I love ghost stories and always find the "real" haunted houses to be better than the ones they make up for Halloween. So glad you shared this.

Certain Creatures said...

Wow gabbi.. this is a great post! Such fun to read!
I love hearing ghost stories - it's fun! ..and btw, the plan for tonight over here is to watch The Haunting in Connecticut just to give us a good night sleep! hihi!
have a wonderful week!

Francesca
x

Sam said...

Ooooh - another fabulous post! I like that a lot Gabbi! Thank you so much!! I had vaguely heard about that house but it's great to learn more! It would have scared the pants off me when I was little - and now too actually!! I'm a total believer in ghosts. When I was down in Adelaide on the weekend we went to the Natural History Museum and looked at a South Sea Island's exhibition full of skulls and old ritual and voodoo type objects - my boyfriend and I could feel the weight opf the spirits around us!! Have a lovely week sweetie! XX

michellehendra said...

yes i do believe in ghosts since i can see them.. so, it's kind of awkward and weird sensation to see them, it's not that bad, but it's not good! i wish i could get rid of this sense.. :(

xx

Maverick Malone said...

That's spooky, but so cool!! Love the story, and the photos :)

xox, mavi

Cheryl said...

I really enjoyed this post. Almost better than driving all the way down there to see the place for myself. I wonder if anyone ever checked out the psychic who gave her that advice to see if she was legitamate?

Anyway, great post! I love spooky subjects.

Gabbi said...

~ Thank you dear Keith! Nice to know I’m not the only one with a fascination for such things… :)

~ Me too June! Again, good to know I’m not alone. ♥

~ Thank you Lola! Btw, excited to see how your new purses will look…

~ Thank you dear Francesca! Wondering what you thought of the movie now… I’ve never seen it before? Hope you’re having a lovely week too! ♥♥

~ Sam, that exhibit sounds scary!!! Must visit Adelaide now for sure… :D Thank you so much for your always lovely comment… hope your week is going swell! ♥xo

~ That sounds really scary Michelle… I can just imagine the shock of seeing something like that. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s interesting to hear that someone actually sees them.♥

~ Thank you dear Malone!!♥xo

~ Yeah, I wonder who the psychic was? Even better if she’d kept a diary don’t you think? There should be a film… thank you Cheryl :)

Cafe Fashionista said...

J'adore this post. I completely believe in ghosts, and this story only reaffirmed my belief. Though now I think I too may need to sleep with a light on. Of course, I already sleep with a nightlight (stop laughing), so I suppose that will suffice! :)

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