While the Bay Area has always had a reputation for being counter-cultural, it’s a lesser known fact that the region is also home to many supernatural and metaphysical anomalies sure to make even the bravest Ghostbuster nervously clutch a proton pack. Here are a few locations to help you begin a tour of the Bay Area’s spooky side:
San Jose, CA:
160 rooms; 100,000 windows; stairs and doors that lead to nowhere; an overabundance of the number 13 (especially in the remaining 13 bathrooms); and a Séance Room – that’s the Winchester Mystery House. Sarah Winchester, the widow who inherited the vast Winchester rifle fortune, believed she was haunted by the spirits of those who had been killed by the family weapon. After a particularly powerful session with a medium, Mrs. Winchester decided to leave her home on the East Coast, move out West, and continuously build a mansion for the rest of her life to keep the ghosts at bay, starting in 1884.
For nearly 38 years, the intricate Winchester Mystery House was continuously built and added to – often in a very haphazard fashion, bolstered by the whims of the quirky owner, who daily announced new plans (all without architectural drawings) to her patient foreman, John Hansen, based on her séance from the night before.
After extensive damage in the 1906 earthquake, the ongoing restoration work has proven to be intensive because everything must be specially tailored to a house built without any square corners. Of course, while the late Victorian mansion and grounds are spectacular from a design standpoint -- her ballroom alone cost more than $9,000 -- the “spirit house,” visited by such luminaries as Harry Houdini, still isn’t free from ghosts. While many investigators (including the Mythbusters) have recorded their findings, the public is asked to make up their own minds …especially during the particularly spooky Friday the 13th flashlight tours!