Winchester Mystery House celebrates 100 years of history and mystery in San Jose

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Saturday, July 1, 2023
SJ's Winchester Mystery House celebrates 100 years
Winchester Mystery House is celebrating 100 years of history and mystery in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Imagine this: 24,000-square-feet, 160 interconnecting rooms, 2,000 doors that exit into thin air, stairways that lead to dead-end ceilings and other oddities that are loved by visitors from all over. We're talking, of course, about the world famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.

Despite changes over the last century in San Jose, the mansion has remained a constant. This year it celebrates 100 years of history and mystery.

"I think this story resonates and there has been curiosity even in Sarah Winchester's time about why did she build this the way that she did and all of the mysteries, legends and lore," Winchester Mystery House exec. director Walter Magnuson said. "There are very few places that can serve as a time capsule of living history, that you can actually get immersed in and visit to this day."

One hundred years ago on June 30, 1923, the Winchester Mystery House officially opened its doors to the public.

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The home dates back to the 1800s when Sara Winchester began a seemingly never-ending construction project that lasted nearly four decades.

But, the mansion became a tourist attraction after Winchester died, as part of an amusement park named Winchester Park created by the homes new owner John Brown.

"He had a whole vision for this to be an incredible resort with a roller coaster and a pool. They had advertised dancing and there was concessions," Magnuson said. "The old Winchester place was sort of a supporting act."

But as years went by, the home stood out as the true attraction. Thirteen million guests have since walked through these doors.

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"It just being an architectural-oddity that is also very historic in an area that went from farmland and agriculture to Silicon Valley, very technical and whatnot - it just stands out," former tour guide Mariah Kampschafer said.

The centennial celebration will continue all weekend long with various events to mark the special occasion.

June 23 will now forever be known in San Jose and Santa Clara County as Winchester Mystery House Day.

Thirteen specially chosen items will be put into a time capsule to be opened when the Winchester Mystery House turns 200 in 2123, including a guest book from Friday's event.

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