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A Maze in San Jose

By Linda Tancs

The Winchester Mystery House is undoubtedly one of the world’s oddest mansions. Located in San Jose, California, it sports miles of twisting hallways and secret passageways in the walls. Once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, the house grew–literally–out of her belief that the spirits of those killed by a Winchester rifle were summoning her to build a haven for them to roam as a sort of penance for the damage wrought by the family business. The story goes that so long as construction of the house never ceased, Mrs. Winchester could rest assured that the spirits would not exact revenge on her. The unrelenting construction over 38 years resulted in a sprawling Victorian mansion containing 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms and six kitchens. A 65-minute tour through 110 of the 160 rooms will expose its bizarre attributes, such as a window built into the floor, staircases leading to nowhere, a chimney that rises four floors, doors that open onto blank walls and upside down posts.

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