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The Most Mysterious House Ever Built
The Winchester House began with a curse, was built under the guidance of "spirits" and has the creepiest architecture of any American home.

William Wirt Winchester was the son of famed gun manufacturer Oliver Winchester and heir to his substantial fortune. The Winchester rifle - the famed Henry Rifle - was a revolution in gun design and was dubbed "the rifle that won the West." At the outset of the Civil War, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company began to amass an incredible fortune from government contracts. And such was the beginning, some say, of a family curse that has resulted in a bizarre architectural legacy that stands to this day.

In September of 1862, at the height of the war between the states, the Winchester family of New Haven, Connecticut, hosted an elaborate wedding for William who took as his bride Sarah Pardee. Small in stature but full of charm and charisma, Sarah was the belle of New Haven and the light of the city's social scene.

It was Sarah Pardee Winchester who built the now-famous - some would say infamous - Winchester House. But it was not for her prestigious family that the house was constructed. Sarah had entirely different and superstitious reasons for building the great house, and it was these reasons that has given the Winchester House its extraordinary design and its paranormal reputation. 

Traumatized by her child's death, Sarah slipped dangerously close to madness, shunning society and withdrawing into herself.

The Curse

In July 1866, Sarah gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter they named Annie. The blessing would soon be darkened by tragedy, however,  when Annie contracted a children's disease and died. This, for Sarah, would be the beginning of what she would later think of as a curse on her family. Traumatized by her child's death, Sarah slipped dangerously close to madness, shunning society and withdrawing into sorrow. The Winchesters never had another child.

Eventually Sarah returned to her home and husband and tried to resume a normal life, but then tragedy struck again. William was stricken with tuberculosis and died in March of 1881. As William's widow, Sarah inherited the then-incredible sun of $20 million and nearly half ownership of the still successful gun manufacturing company. But the money did little to sooth the anguish Sarah felt over the deaths of the two people she loved most in the world. She was so distraught and nearly inconsolable that a friend recommended she seek the counsel of a medium. Spiritualism was extremely popular during this period of American history, and so for a person of Sarah's position and resources, this was not an unusual recourse.

Sarah's visit to this medium would, however, reinforce in her mind the idea that the Winchester family was cursed, and would change her life forever.

Next page > The Medium and the House > Page 1, 2

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