Happy Halloween

Pictured above are Mrs. Winchester's carpenters. They were well-compensated professionals who worked hard to meet Mrs. Winchester's strange but exacting standards.
They lived, worked, and in some cases raised families on the estate. At least one of them may still be there.

During most of the mansion's history the main basement has been closed off. It wasn't until a few years ago that a second tour was added to include the basement. This meant clearing about 80 years of accumulated debris and dust. Since tours guides have some downtime between tours, they were given the job of sweeping up. It took several months, and during that time people kept running into someone they didn't know. He wore overalls, and had a wheelbarrow, and looked like he might be part of the restoration crew.

One of the guides, expecting to be alone in the basement that day, asked his manager who the other person doing the cleaning was. The manager was confused because no one else was scheduled to do any work in the basement. She asked what the other person looked like. The tour guide described him as wearing overalls and having a mustache, and he was pushing a wheelbarrow.

A few weeks later a different guide asked the same question. 'Who is that guy in the basement?'
The manager was curious, and asked what he looked like. The tour guide described him. He had a mustache. He wore overalls. He was pushing a wheelbarrow. This was very strange, no one was scheduled to be in the basement.

The tour opened to the public shortly thereafter. One afternoon in the basement, a guest asked her guide who the man with the wheelbarrow was. What man, he replied. No one was supposed to be in the basement. After the tour, he asked the manager who might have been in the basement with a wheelbarrow. No one, what did he look like? Well, he had a mustache, and wore overalls....

People kept seeing the man with the wheelbarrow. One day, a guest pointed to the picture of the carpenters and said to her guide, 'I saw that man in the basement. He had a wheelbarrow.' The guide told the manager what the guest had said.

Out of curiosity, the manager showed the photo to one of the guides. The guide was surprised. 'That's him.' The manager brought in the other guide. Without being asked, the guide pointed to the man on the far right side of the photo. 'That's the man with the wheelbarrow.'

People ask me if the house is haunted. I tell them that I don't know, but some of Mrs. Winchester's employees were very loyal.


An Interview (fixed link)

There's no regular update for today, but there's something special. Earlier this week, I gave an interview to the Travel Blog jaunted. You can read the interview here, and post any follow-up questions in the comments section.


Down the Waterspout

The planters in the south conservatory have drains which carry water to the garden below.


Hole in the Wall

The crawlspaces are the least explored part of the house. The wires seen here were
probably part of the servant call system.


Away Go Troubles

This sink was handpainted in Venice, and has 13 overflow drain holes.
For some reason guides never remember if it's 13 with or without the main drain.


I Spy

The Seance Room windows look down on this kitchen, but Mrs.
Winchester's small stature would have prevented her from
being seen.


Of Monkeys

Supposedly there's a hidden wine cellar on the estate, but no one has been able
to find it. These barrels in the basement are the closest thing I know of.


Hocus Focus

Two pictures taken from the top of the water tower. One is from around 1900,
the other is more recent.


Sand Trap

A small parlor in one of Mrs. Winchester's bedrooms. The room was sealed in 1906.
The floorboards were removed at some point, possibly to use the wood elsewhere.
Note the sand insulation.


Organ Donor

Mrs. Winchester was a skilled musician, playing piano, organ, and violin. She
was known to play the ballroom's organ late into the night. This is not the original.


Upper Deck

An unfinished room behind the 'Most Expensive Window.' It is likely
that the worktable below has been here since the room was sealed in 1906.


Doff Your Cap

The mansion has two large 'large conical roofs, called Witch's Caps.' This is an
inside view of the southern one.


Filled With Patterns

The original linoleum from the seance room was replaced long ago, but if you
pull the drawer from the built-in cabinet, you can see this little bit remains.


Sparkle and Fade

The 'Crystal Bedrooms' have mica crushed into the walls to produce a sparkling effect.
They were intended as guest quarters, but were damaged in the 1906 earthquake and
not repaired.


Close Quarters

This corridor is on the third floor, and contains servants' quarters. It is
well preserved and only opened for cleaning and inspections. It is often used as
a reference point for restorations in other parts of the house.


Shower Power

This is the mansion's only shower. This type of shower is designed

to wet the bather from all angles, and was patented in 1889. This
one is set to Mrs. Winchester's height, 4 feet and ten inches.


Bamboo Harvester

Called the Oriental Bedroom because of the carved bamboo, this room belonged
to Mrs. Winchester's niece Marion. The bamboo forms a spider web pattern
above the fireplace.


Go West

This brass plate depicts Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, and is meant to hold a
gas lamp. The patterns on the wall are from the Lincrusta Walton wall covering,
whichwas used throughout the mansion.


Making Hay

As the mansion grew, it absorbed the barn. This hayloft became a storage room. A
guest claiming to be psychic once told a guide that a man was killed in this room.


Baker's Dozen

The chandelier in the ballroom has 12 original fixtures, and a 13th supposedly
added by Mrs. Winchester. Some of the tour guides were skeptical of this claim.



During the 1920's, guests were allowed to tour the house
unsupervised. This led to vandalism and the disappearance of
most of the house's door knobs.


Corner Case

It doesn't look like much, but this is probably the only bit of the original eight
room house that survives. Located in the northeast quadrant of the mansion,
these old shingles cannot be seen on the tour.


Exit Strategy

The seance room contains the only real 'secret passage' in the house.
This closet door opens to reveal an exit, but no handle on the other side of the door.

Visitor James Luckett posted a link to his website in the user comments yesterday, and I thought it was worth sharing with everyone. His page features a collection of promotional postcards the Winchester Mystery House used to sell. I own one or two of them, but not the whole set. I've seen them dated from the 1940's before, but some of the photos date from before 1906. Check them out here.


In The Bedroom

Mrs. Winchester died in this room, and it's called the 'deadroom' when
guests aren't around. None of the furniture pictured is original.


Final Stop

This elevator now rests permanently in the basement. It was raised and lowered by
filling or draining a large hydraulic cylinder. Since it went to the fourth floor,
the cylinder shaft below it had to be five stories deep.


In Through the Out Door

The carriage entrance, where Mrs. Winchester could enter her home without worrying
about rain or cold. The only known photo of her on the estate was taken right outside
of these doors.