If you don't live in Northern California or have never visited here then there's a good possibility you've never heard of the Winchester Mystery House. If you're ever passing through San Jose make a point of stopping. You won't be disappointed if you like odd places or Victorian architecture run amok.
I'll let Wikipedia give you a brief biography:
The Winchester Mystery House is a well-known California mansion that was under construction continuously for 38 years, and is reported to be haunted. It once was the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, but is now a tourist attraction. Under Winchester's day-to-day guidance, its "from-the-ground-up" construction proceeded around-the-clock, without interruption, from 1884 until her death on September 5, 1922, at which time work immediately ceased. The cost for such constant building has been estimated at about US $5.5 million (if paid in 1922, this would be equivalent to almost $70 million in 2008 dollars). (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
The story long told is that following the death of her husband and daughter the distraught Sarah Winchester was told by a medium that there was a curse on the Winchester family because of all the people who had been killed by the guns made by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (maker of the famous Winchester rifle).
Although this is disputed, popular belief holds that the Boston Medium told Winchester that she had to leave her home in New Haven and travel West, where she must "build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon, too. You must never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live forever. But if you stop, then you will die too." (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
This is the oddest house I've ever been in. Okay, "odd" really doesn't cover it. Staircases to nowhere. Doors that open onto solid walls. And a bathroom door for the servants that was glass because she didn't trust them. That has always stuck in my mind from the tour oh so long ago. She must have been a real delight to work for.
This little packet of photos dates back to the 1940s. The photos measure 3" x 2". I bought a similar pack in the 1960s.
Click on any image to see it larger.
To read more about the Winchester Mystery House visit their website.