Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

Midst the chips and modems of Silicon Valley,

At the vineyard’s edge, ‘twixt mountain and sea,

In San Jose, like a compressed city,

The Winchester House of Mystery.

Well, apologies to Swinburne, but the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, prompts the Victorian gothic in me.

Sprawling like an architectural dog’s breakfast over 2.4 hectares (six acres), the Winchester Mystery House was the project of Sarah L. Winchester, the heiress to the fortune made by the Winchester Repeating Rifle, the gun that won the west.

Inevitably, in winning the west, it was responsible for dispatching a number of folks to the great beyond. After the premature death of Sarah’s husband and only child, she became convinced that the spirits of the gun’s victims cursed her. Her $20 million inheritance allowed her to assuage her remorse in a unique way. One could call it gilt by association.

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