The True Story of the Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

In the annals of bizarro American history, there exists a house so notoriously elaborate and kookily constructed that – despite tales of hauntings, accidents, and disorientation – it remains a viable tourist trap to this day. Nestled in the heart of San Jose, California, the Winchester Mystery House has been the subject of intense fascination since its construction in 1884. And for good reason: the house is a literal maze, with staircases that lead nowhere, a custom-made Tiffany window designed to look like a spiderweb, and hidden messages meant to ward off spirits throughout its many tangled rooms.

The new horror movie Winchester, in theaters today, is a fantastical interpretation of the house’s history, with Helen Mirren as the famously offbeat Sarah Winchester. But this is a house so historic and strange, with a backstory full of twists and turns – like the house itself – that the Hollywood version trades in for ghostly apparitions and jump scares. The truth may not be scarier than fiction, but it’s certainly more interesting.

With that in mind, let’s dig into the true story of the Winchester Mystery House: why it was built, what it means, where you might have seen it before, and why it remains a fascinating artifact of American spiritualism.

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Winchester giveaway

Confession time: I don’t handle ghost stories very well. I lost my damn mind during The Conjuring, and I still remember emerging into a dark and foggy street after seeing the first Paranormal Activity and being jumpy for a few hours.

But I may have to psyche myself into seeing Winchester, the new horror film starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, when it comes out on Friday. In the meantime, we’re hosting a giveaway of prints of an alternate poster for the movie that was designed by celebrated artist Daniel Danger, who’s done some incredible work for companies like Mondo over the years. Take a look at the full poster and learn how to enter our Winchester giveaway below!
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Winchester Trailer

There are plenty of horror movies about haunted houses, but this might be the first about a house intentionally built for the purpose of imprisoning ghosts.

No, we’re not talking about a reboot of Ghostbusters again (at least not yet), but rather Winchester. Formerly given the subtitle of “The House That Ghosts Built” when the first trailer debuted last year, CBS Films has opted to go with the shorter title of Winchester (it’s cleaner). But that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of scares in this horror thriller starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke.

Watch the new Winchester trailer below. Read More »