A haunted mansion in Northern California is offering virtual ghost tours

Written by
Sarah Medina
Travel Editor, North America

Coronavirus has prompted museums, zoos and celebrities across the US to put on all kinds of virtual shows, but (as far as we know) this is the first virtual tour from the beyond. California's most famous haunted home, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose is now offering free video tours while the mansion is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the largest private residence in the United States, the bizarro began when the lady of the house, Sarah Winchester, inherited a vast fortune from her father-in-law, Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the famous rifle, and she moved from New Haven, Connecticut to San Jose. Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted and started to build a house as a way to elude the ghosts of all the people who had fallen victim to the Winchester rifle. From 1886 until her death in 1922, construction never ceased on the strange new mansion, which at its peak included 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces and 2,000 doors, trap doors and spy holes. The house is designed to confuse—staircases lead nowhere and end at ceilings; cabinets and doors open on to walls; small rooms are built within big rooms; balconies and windows are inside rather than out; chimneys stop floors short of the ceiling; and floors have skylights.

Spectral sightings are common at Winchester. Along with frequent gentle tugs of shirts or skirts during tours, both guests and workers have claimed to crossed paths with “Clyde,” a mustached man sometimes seen pushing a wheelbarrow in the basement or trying to repair the fireplace in the ballroom while wearing white overalls and a Victorian boater hat. 

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Stay safe, practice social distancing, and #BeLikeSarah

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In addition to the free video tour, fans of the weird and wonderful are also encouraged to follow Winchester Mystery House’s Facebook page for the next opportunity to tune in to a necessary walkthrough of the house, which will stream on select days at 1pm (the 13th hour of the day). And you can always watch Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester in the movie Winchester, which is currently streaming on Amazon.  

And let us know if you see Clyde on camera. 

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