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The Sarah Winchester Story

Sarah Winchester


William Wirt Winchester born in Baltimore, MD. The only son of Oliver Winchester.


Sarah Lockwood Pardee (Winchester) is born in New Haven, Connecticut.


Sarah marries William Winchester, heir to the Winchester® Repeating Arms Company, on September 30, 1862



Their only child Annie Pardee Winchester is born on July 12, 1866.  Tragically, the child dies a mere five-and-a-half weeks after her birth, from marasmus


The Winchester® rifle Model 73, known as “The Gun that Won the West,” is released


Oliver Winchester dies, leaving the succession of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to his only surviving son, who is already seriously ill with the disease that will shortly take his life.

William Winchester
sarah winchester in carriage at winchester mystery hosue


Only three months after Oliver’s death, his son William Winchester dies of tuberculosis at the age of 43. Sarah Winchester inherits William’s vast fortune, reportedly $20 million dollars plus nearly 50% of the Winchester® Repeating Arms stock.


Sarah Winchester arrives in California


Sarah Winchester purchases a two-story farmhouse near San Jose, California, that will soon grow into her beloved Llanada Villa, later known as the Winchester Mystery House®, and begins remodeling.


Marion “Daisy” Merriman–Sarah’s favorite niece–moves to Llanada Villa and lives with her Aunt Sarah for the next 15 years.

winchester mystery house damage from 1906 earthquake
Winchester Grave

1890 - 1900

The heyday of the mansion’s construction, when it rises from a small farmhouse to a 7-story Victorian giant.


Daisy Merriman marries Frederick Marriott, Jr. and leaves Llanada Villa.


Great San Francisco earthquake damages the mansion–the 7-story tower and most of the fourth floor are later demolished.


Sarah purchases a second home in Atherton, where she can be closer to her sister Isabelle and her niece Daisy. Sarah spends a great deal of time here until her death.


September 5, 1922 Sarah Winchester passes away at Llanada Villa. Thirty-six  years of construction ceases at the news of Mrs. Winchester’s death.


Llanada Villa is sold. Daisy Marriott, Sarah’s niece, inherits $3,000 from her aunt, the contents and personal possessions from both Sarah’s homes, and the income from a $200,000 trust fund for the remainder of her life.

The "Mystery House"

winchester mystery house vintage photo
harry houdini


December 15, 1922: The auction sale of Llanada Villa and it’s surrounding acreage is finalized. This property is further divided and sold


April 1923 – John and Mayme Brown lease Llanda Villa and its remaining grounds and move their family onto the estate. They plan to create a park featuring “Backety-Back Railway,” one of the earliest known wooden Roller-Coasters, designed and initially built by John at an amusement park in Canada. Due to local restrictions, and overwhelming public interest in the house, they shift their focus to opening the house to the public and the roller coaster is never built.


The Mansion is opened for public tours. Mayme Brown is the first tour guide. Sarah Winchester’s old gardens become “Winchester Park” where families can come and picnic and enjoy themselves.


Famed magician Harry Houdini visits the mansion near Halloween night, seeking to debunk the paranormal stories.  He leaves with more questions than answers, and famously referred to it as “The Mystery House.”


House is officially marketed as the Winchester Mystery House.  Postcards are created by Frasher Fotos.


The original water tank on top of the tank house burns, damages the tank house as well.


John H. Brown dies in June 1945. His wife and two daughters continue to run daily tours and operations of the house.


Mayme Brown dies in December 1951.


In honor of Sarah Winchester and her home, Santa Clara-Los Gatos Road is renamed “Winchester Boulevard.”

“Winchester Park” closes and Century Theatres are built.

Winchester Wax Museum Opens.


Winchester Mystery House is incorporated. It’s mission is to continue to preserve Sarah Winchester’s home and gardens, making them accessible to future generations.

winchester mystery house historical landmark plaque
winchester movie
winchester mystery house night


Restoration of the Mansion and Victorian Gardens begins, and several rooms are furnished. A new Gift shop is opened and Guided Garden Tours begin.


Winchester Mystery House is granted state historic landmark status.

Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


First flashlight tours are given. The Wax Museum closes to make way for a new cafe and conference room


The old “Well House” is moved 100 feet to the west, and a spacious new Central Courtyard is created.


“Behind the Scenes” tour is created, taking guests through the old Stables and into the oldest basement.


The Mansion is named a San Jose City landmark.


The classical statue of the goddess Hebe –one of a pair that flanked the Mansion entrance in Sarah Winchester’s time–is repaired and returned to its proper place in the gardens after a 60-year absence.


The Parlor Hallway is restored, using 130-year-old wallpaper from Sarah Winchester’s stockpile.


”Sarah’s Attic” shooting gallery is created in Central Courtyard.

South Twin Dining Room is restored, using 130-year-old wallpaper from Sarah Winchester’s stockpile, as well as new pieces made from molds of the old patterns.

The “Explore More” Tour debuts in May of 2017. Dozens of rooms never before seen by the public are opened, guests are allowed to enter through the front doors of the mansion for the first time.

Filming begins on Winchester movie.


Winchester: the feature film is released starring Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester


Winchester Mystery House begins Unhinged, the all-new immersive theatrical Halloween experience.


Winchester Mystery House honors 100 years since Sarah Winchester’s passing on September 5, 1922.


Winchester Mystery House celebrates 100 years of being open for tours on June 30, 2023.