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Rumored Hauntings at the Estate

Haunted legends and supernatural lore are well-suited to the Winchester Mystery House. Under construction for 38 years by Sarah Winchester to allegedly appease the spirits of those lost to the Winchester rifle. The house has been named one of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Most Haunted Houses in America.” Both guests and employees claim to have had real-life paranormal experiences.

Let’s delve into some of these ghostly visitations and the types of hauntings that they may represent.

As legends passed down through the years, there are three types of haunting stories conjured from the ominously long hallways of Sarah’s estate: so called intelligent hauntings, residual hauntings, and shadow figures. Luckily, we’ve seen or heard no evidence of poltergeists, the often-malevolent members of the spirit realm.

Residual Hauntings: In this type of haunting, a spiritual-playback is stuck on repeat – a moment from the past is played back, over and over again, like a video on loop. The events played back may be traumatic or life-changing to the person who experienced them, or they could be routine tasks the person performed many times. Purportedly experienced in the grand ballroom and the chilly basement of the estate, these hauntings involve the famous “Wheelbarrow Ghost” working on the fireplace, or pushing a wheelbarrow full of ash or coal.

The worker on the far right, known as “Clyde”, is a popular resident at the Winchester Estate.

Intelligent Hauntings: In this type of haunting, there seems to be a consciousness behind the paranormal act, and the spirit is attempting to interact with the living world. Usually, they are no more than gentle tugs on shirts or skirts during tours, but long-time maintenance worker Denny reports that one morning, after entering the water tower, he heard the patter of footsteps above. He ascended to let the trespasser know the three-story structure was off-limits. But the footsteps always seemed to be one step ahead of him, and, one floor above. His search culminated on the roof, with no one in sight. 

Shadow Figures: The most commonly reported supernatural occurrence is the appearance of a shadowy human-shaped manifestation. What seems like an “are-my-eyes-playing-tricks-on-me” moment, may sometimes feel too real to ignore. Shadow figures or shadowy shapes that resemble people are purported to be seen roaming around corners, down long hallways, and appearing in windows. Speaking of windows, a former Marketing Director employed by the house captured the below photo in 2015, and caught what appears to be a human-shaped apparition looking out on the front gardens. What do you think – ghostly figure or reflection of the clouds?

A shadowy encounter on the second floor, or a reflection of the clouds?

The consensus seems to be that if there is something here, it’s as welcoming to the many guests that walk through the gates as the staff of the Winchester Mystery House.


This summer experience the Winchester Mystery House’s all new daily tour – Walk with Spirits – and explore the paranormal as explained through the Spiritualism movement. You will have the opportunity to not just learn, but to experience for yourself, what happens when the veil between this life and the next is lifted.  


During the Walk With Spirits Tour, guests will attend the wake for a departed soul in the parlor of the home, ascend to the third floor to experience a Victorian era seance and end in the dark and foreboding basement, home to the famous “Wheelbarrow Ghost”.  Tours are offered daily starting in July 2022. Learn more here.