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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been obsessed over Winchester Mystery House since I was a kid. I used to see bilboards for it and begged my parents to bring me. I was never able to go as a kid, but as an adult, lived in San Jose for a couple years. Finally went to the Mystery House and wasn't disappointed. Worth the wait, but wish there was more emphasis on the "spooky" aspect on the tours. Since it is now owned by the state of CA, the tour seems a little dry.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Hi Anonymous,

It's a common misconception, but the mansion is not owned by the state of California. In fact, it's still owned by the family of TS Barnett, who purchased the house at probate auction after Mrs. Winchester's death. Some of the confusion stems from the fact that its designated as a state and national landmark, but I can assure you that the house is privately owned.

As for the tour being dry, there has been an increased emphasis on history and restoration in the last 20 years or so. The more fantastic stories are really just rumour, but they are an important part of the house and I agree that presenting them as part of the tour would be useful.

Also, it really depends on your guide. Although the contents of the tour remain pretty constant, a good tour guide can make the drier portions better.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Jamie H said...

I have a question about the house after the earthquake. Do you have any pictures of the room in which Mrs. Winchester was trapped during the earthquake? Also, when was that section of the house re-opened? Thanks!

2:22 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Hi Jamie,

The front 18 rooms of the house were closed off from 1906 until Mrs. Winchester's death in 1922. My assumption is that they were reopened when the house was appraised for auction.

The room Mrs. Winchester was trapped in is known as the Daiy bedroom, and you can see pics here , here , here , and here .

2:31 PM  

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