Questions & Answers

You Asked Them – We Answered Them!

@Kim Raymond Kowalczyk

Q: Is there anything written by Sarah about what she was doing or why? Did she keep records or just go with feelings?

A: If Sarah kept any sort of diary, we don’t have it. All her personal papers were left to her niece, Marion Marriott, and sadly, we have no idea what happened to them. There are letters showing the frequent and detailed correspondence between her and her lawyer, Samuel Leib, which History San Jose is in possession of. Sarah was a very smart and businesslike lady!

@Dina Kae Marseline

Q: Tours used to display more superstitious items such as napkins with daisy patterns, spider webs, and other designs, as well as kitchen items such as silverware. What happened to those items?

A:  Occasionally we refurbish displays, taking things out for restoration or maintenance, but the house still contains fabrics, woodwork, windows, and other items decorated with daisies, spider webs, etc, since these were such popular motifs during the Aesthetic Movement of the late 1800s, when Sarah built and decorated her home.


Q: When and why was the exterior paint color scheme changed to the current Red/Tan? I heard on the Explore More tour once that the mansion exterior was originally a different color.

A: Sarah started with an already existing house, and we aren’t sure about the very earliest colors of the place, as Eastman Kodak’s “Kodachrome” color film was not available until 1935.

But the current colors are not far off from the ones that Sarah used.  There are many surviving sections of the mansion that haven’t been painted since Sarah’s time: outer walls that became inner walls during remodeling projects, but were never finished, for example. Some areas show a light-yellow color on the clapboards, and there was a lot of greyish-green (a little less olive colored than the current green). The earliest door and window frames were painted a brownish-red, almost burgundy color, which was later covered by a very dark charcoal toned paint—very somber, but elegant! Tinted postcards from Sarah’s time show this same yellow and gray-green color scheme, as well as the red roof!

@Nicholas Fortin

Q: Is there a basement?

A: There are two! The largest basement is a significant piece of the Explore More Tour at the Winchester Mystery House. The other basement is primarily used for storage purposes for our gift shop. Come see the basement in all of its spookiness on the Explore More Tour.


Q: Did they film the Winchester movie at the actual Winchester house?

A: Yes! They filmed at the house for several days with Hellen Mirren and Jason Clarke. Much of the outside and internal shots of the house were filmed here. The film was also shot in Australia. 


Q: How many rooms are in the house? How many of those rooms do I get to see on tour?

A: There are 160 rooms in the house. On the Mansion Tour you will see about 110 of the 160 rooms, and the Explore More Tour visits the attic, basement, and some of the more hidden areas of the house.

@Rhonda Stawp Long

Q: Is there anyone who is allowed access to the WHOLE house?

A: As in Sarah’s days, the estate’s staff have access to many parts of the house.


Q: Will guests ever get to stay overnight in the actual house?

A: Though a popular request, we are not open for overnight stays at this time.

@Jeremy Etienne

Q: Is there an itemized list of the belongings that were found in the house, when she passed? Particularly what books were in her libraries?

A: There is a list of the more important items in the home, for probate purposes, but it didn’t include details like books, unfortunately. But we can make some good guesses! Sarah almost certainly enjoyed Shakespeare, since she had quotes from two of his plays included in her Ballroom windows. We also have some illustrated books on gardening in California that once belonged to Sarah—she loved gardening!