Thursday, January 23, 2020


By Mary Davis

Her mind was as mystifying as the chaotic house she built. Each labyrinth of halls, more baffling than the previous.

Sarah Lockwood Pardee was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1839. On September 30, 1862, Sarah married William Wirt Winchester the only son and heir of Oliver Winchester owner of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

William and Sarah had a daughter, Annie Pardee Winchester, born on July 12, 1866 who passed away only five and a half months later from marasmus. They had no other children. Upon her husband’s death in 1881, Sarah inherited $20 million dollars and nearly 50% of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company stock.

Grieving from the loss of her daughter and husband, Sarah visited a medium who recommended she move west and told her she needed to keep building to appease the spirits of the numerous people the Winchester rifle killed over the years. Sarah moved and bought a two-story, eight-room farmhouse in 1884 near San Jose, CA and began “remodeling”. She called her home Llanada Villa.

One of Sarah's Many Bedrooms

Construction continued around the clock seven days a week adding on and adding on and adding on. You could say that this was a renovation that got out of control.

Upon her death on September 5, 1922, the hammers and saws were laid down and the remodeling finally stopped.

By then, the normal farmhouse had grown into a sprawling mansion of confusion without rhyme or reason. In the end, the residence measured 24,000 square feet.

In that space, the eight rooms had multiplied into 160. There were:
~~47 staircase (some leading to dead ends)

~~47 fireplaces
~~17 chimneys
~~52 skylights (one of which is in the floor of a middle story)
~~13 bathrooms
~~9 kitchens
~~10,000 windows
~~2,000 doors (Watch your step. This second floor door goes nowhere.)

Maybe this door that leads nowhere was to confuse the ghosts. Perhaps, if one was to open this door from the inside, it would lead to Narnia.

Other doors opened up to a wall.

With all these additions, a network of rambling rooftops developed.
Sarah’s Llanada Villa became known as the Winchester Mystery House even before her death.

I haven’t had a chance to visit the Winchester Mystery House, but I really want to. It sounds so intriguing.

On the night of October 31, 1924, the famous magician Harry Houdini visited the house to debunk the claims of paranormal activity. By the time he left, he had more questions than answers and referred to it as “The Mystery House.”

In 2018, a movie was made of Sarah Winchester and her mystery house called Winchester, starring Helen Mirren.

The websites used in my research hinted at Sarah’s obsession for the constant building of this bizarre house was to appease the ghosts of the multitude of people who were killed by the Winchester Repeating Rifle. She believed those people haunted her hence the reason for the constant construction and so many doors. She had many of the doors nailed shut with thirteen nails each. Whether you believe in actual physical hauntings or you think it was all in her head, Sarah was a haunted soul.

Was she simply crazy? Or was she haunted by restless souls?

THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT (Book 2 in the Quilting Circle series )

Can a patient love win her heart?
   As Isabelle Atwood’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams. While making a quilt for her own hope chest, Isabelle’s half-sister becomes pregnant out of wedlock and Isabelle--always the unfavored daughter--becomes the family sacrifice to save face. Despite gaining the attention of a handsome rancher, her parents are pressuring her to marry a man of their choosing to rescue her sister’s reputation. A third suitor waits silently in the wings, hoping for his own chance at love. Isabelle ends up with three marriage proposals, but this only further confuses her decision.
   A handsome rancher, a stranger, and an unseen suitor are all waiting for an answer. Isabelle loves her sister, but will she really allow herself to be manipulated into a marriage without love? Will Isabelle capitulate and marry the man her parents wish her to, or will she rebel and marry the man they don’t approve of? Or will the man leaving her secret love poems sweep her off her feet?

MARY DAVIS is a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over three dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her recent titles include; "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides CollectionThe PRODIGAL DAUGHTERS SeriesThe Widow’s Plight, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides CollectionThe Daughter's Predicament, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. Shes an ACFW member and critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-four years and two cats. She has three adult children and two adorable grandchildren. Find her online:


  1. What a strange story. It's sad how Sarah wasted so much money building a useless house when she could have helped so many people with it. I do think it would be interesting to tour the house though.