The Winchester Mystery House

Kelly Ross

Reading — Advanced Level
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Read the article and select the correct answer to the questions below

The Winchester Mystery House is a Victorian mansion in San Jose, California, formerly owned by the prominent Winchester family. William Winchester was a gun magnate and left his wife, Sarah, a widow when he succumbed to tuberculosis in 1881. Shortly after his death, Sarah's infant daughter also died of tuberculosis. It was at this time that a medium told Sarah she needed to move out and buy a home for herself and the spirits of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles.

Sarah moved from Connecticut to San Jose where she purchased an unfinished farmhouse using the funds from her inheritance. Since its construction in 1884, it was rumored that the house was haunted. Without the use of an architect, Sarah directed the construction of the house in a haphazard fashion, adding doors that led nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms and stairs with odd-sized risers. It is believed that these additions were added to confuse the spirits haunting the property.

The Winchester house was worked on daily until Winchester's death in 1922. It has 160 rooms including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, two basements, and 3 elevators. There was also only one working toilet for Sarah but all other restrooms were decoys to confuse spirits. The Victorian-style mansion was declared a California historical landmark and is currently privately owned and serving as a tourist attraction.
  1. Who did the medium believe was haunting Sarah Winchester?

  2. What is one thing that Winchester did NOT do to confuse the spirits?

  3. What is the current style of the house?

  4. How did Sarah Winchester afford to construct the home for so many years?

  5. Who owns the house now?


Practice your writing skills by discussing the questions below

  1. What do you think about the Winchester Mystery House?

  2. Do you believe in mediums? And in ghosts and spirits?

  3. Would you visit the Winchester Mystery House? Why or why not?

  4. Have you ever talked to a medium or to someone who can see the future? Discuss your experience

    Kelly Ross

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