I took the tour when I was in town, and I was little underwhelmed.Too me, it didn't seem like a truly huge mansion, but it supposedly has
10 thousand windows and 2 thousand doors . . . and it definitely has a lot of
useless grandiosity in the Victorian style.Yes, it had stairs that
lead to nowhere and doors that open onto solid brick walls, but I wasn't
favorably impressed overall.The whole place seems like a metaphor
for Republican ideology.
Very Interesting. Would be fun to visit.
A more enlightened view of Sarah Winchester and her "mystery" house is
found in Mary Jo Ignoffo, Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester, Heiress
to the Rifle Fortune (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2010). In the
words of accomplished historian Mrs. Ignoffo: "Those who are the most
mocking of Winchester, her most strident accusers, have based their definitive
opinions on a mythology that does not stand up to historical scrutiny. It is a
disservice to the facts of her life to dismiss Sarah Winchester as a
superstitious madwoman. It is time to set the record straight."
Sarah's life (1839-1922) was intensely interesting and was played out
against the backdrop of the complexity of the story of the American West. Her
house in San Jose is well-worth visiting as are, as noted by Henry Drummond, the
spectacular gardens which surround it.
I've been to the Winchester Mystery House many times with family and out of
town visitors. Actually the gardens outside are my favorite part. The parlor is
actually fairly typical of nineteenth century architecture. Other parts of the
house are pretty strange, though. She seems to have liked the number
"13." Nobody knows for sure what she was up to, or what the inscriptions
scattered around the house are trying to tell us.Beware of the tour
guides however. They're not exactly historians, but more often than not are
frustrated actors. If you get the right guide, they can be more fun the house.