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Winchester Mystery House is an extravagant maze of Victorian craftsmanship – marvelous, baffling, and eerily eccentric, to say the least. Tour guides must warn people not to stray from the group or they could be lost for hours! Countless questions come to mind as you wander through the mansion – such as, what was Mrs. Winchester thinking when she had a staircase built that descends seven steps and then rises eleven? Speculation is bound to pursue a wealthy, eccentric recluse like Mrs. Winchester. Many wild rumors circulated about her during her residence in San Jose – her house was even known locally as “The Spirit House” – and some say the rumors may have actually added to Mrs. Winchester’s isolation. But when she died peacefully in her sleep at the age of eighty-two, the curiosity of local people was unleashed. Whether or not one believes in Mrs. Winchester’s superstitions about spirits, it’s harder to dismiss occurrences of the number 13 throughout the house. Many windows have 13 panes and there are 13 bathrooms, with 13 windows in the 13th Bathroom. There are also 13 wall panels in the room prior to the 13th Bathroom, and 13 steps leading to that bathroom. The Carriage Entrance Hall floor is divided into 13 cement sections. There are even 13 hooks in the Séance Room, which supposedly held the different colored robes Mrs. Winchester wore while communing with the spirits. Just like the original construction, restoration and maintenance work at the Winchester Mystery House never stops. The actual amount of material required is staggering. For example, its over 20,000 gallons of paint to cover the exterior – and by the time the workers have finished, they have to start all over again! Continuous work is being done on the massive structure, with carpenters, painters, and gardeners toiling away just as they did during Mrs. Winchester’s day. The sons and grandsons of Mrs. Winchester’s original employees have been some of these workmen!
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