Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the one haunted spot you hear of the most is the Winchester Mystery House. Located in San Jose, CA, it is now considered a National Landmark and is open for tours. Don't quote me on the following story, as I am not quite sure if I have all of the facts right.
So the story goes something like this. In the 1800's, Sarah Pardee married into the Winchester family, known for the Winchester rifle. She had a happy but brief marriage. She gave birth to a baby girl who shortly died from an uncommon disease. Sarah briefly went made from her grief, but managed to recover. Unfortunately, her troubles were not over. Her husband was to pass away soon after her daughter from tuberculosis.
Upon these tragic deaths, Sarah Winchester visited a medium. The medium stated that the spirit of her husband was in the room and described his physical attributes. The medium also related that the Winchester family was under a terrible curse. All of the souls killed by Winchester rifles were haunting the family, which caused these untimely deaths. In order to appease the angry spirits, Sarah had to build a house for them. Construction was never to stop and the spirits would leave her alone.
Soon after, Sarah moved to San Jose, California. She bought a large area of property which contained a small farmhouse. Possessing her husband's inheritance of $1,000 a day, she began to build off of this house. Her efforts produced one the most bizarre buildings I have ever seen.
The construction began in 1884 and lasted until her death in 1922. She had construction crews working on the mansion 24 hours a day. The only time construction halted was in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when Sarah was trapped in her bedroom which was caused by a collapsed chimney.
The mansion consists of 160 rooms, all of which are very odd. There are glass windows on the floor. A door opens up into a drop onto the bottom floor's kitchen sink. One staircase leads up into the ceiling. All the staircases in the house except for one have 13 steps. In fact, Sarah appears to have been obsessed with the number 13. There are 13 windows in the 13th bathroom, one looking in upon the neighboring bedroom. A kitchen sink has 13 drains. These are just a few examples of the strange architecture of the mystery house.
Sarah Winchester was also considered eccentric. She allowed no visitors within her home in her lifetime. She didn't even like any of the public to see her face. She constructed a seance room, where legend says that she nightly consulted the spirits on the building of the house. She slept in a different bedroom every night.
Many psychics have visited the location and most claim it haunted, by more than just Sarah Winchester. Cold spots, voices, screams, windows spontaneously breaking, and doors slamming have been reported. The sound of a piano can be heard wafting through the hallways. People have seen Sarah's ghost and orbs floating down halls. Many employees have noted the smell of chicken soup permeating the kitchen.
I visited the house several years back. Unfortunately, it has somewhat of a Disneyland feel to it, as it has become sort of a tourist trap. Daily tours are offered and there is a giftshop. Still, I could feel something there. I didn't see anything unusual, but the air was very heavy. I didn't take any pics, but I plan to go back and see if I can find anything.
If any of you are ever in San Francisco, I urge you to visit the Winchester Mystery House. It's definitely worth seeing. If you are interested in learning more about this mansion, just type "winchester mystery house" into any search engine. You will get a lot of information!