We visited San Jose to tour the Sarah Winchester House. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time now. It felt a little funny being in the city knowing our friends Trisha and Nate live there and how we could visit them, but unfortunately they’re now living abroad so we couldn’t pay them a visit.
Driving up to Winchester Boulevard, we were surprised the mansion is surrounded by commercial buildings. It is situated across from Santana Row, a fashionable outdoor shopping center and dining area. I imagine in the earlier days the house was more residential before all the modern buildings were built up around it.
I do not have pictures to share from inside the house because photography is not allowed. The guided tour was an hour and a half but felt shorter. Touring the massive seven-mile long space of the mansion seemed like we hadn’t covered much ground at all. Apparently we had seen 110 of the 160 rooms, walked a little over a mile through the house, but it sure didn’t feel like it. For the most part, everything is left the same way as it was when Sarah Winchester lived there. If you don’t know the story of Sarah Winchester, in brief it goes like this: Sarah Winchester sought out a medium in Boston after her child and husband passed away. The medium told her she had to go west and build a house to appease the spirits killed by the Winchester Rifles. (Her husband owned the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.) When Mrs. Winchester found the perfect house in San Jose, she hired carpenters to build the mansion 24 hours a day for 38 years.
Inside the house, there are doors and windows opening onto blank walls, a staircase from the floor to the ceiling, and crafted art glass windows. Because Mrs. Winchester was superstitious, she had the number 13 to everything: a chandelier with thirteen candles to it; thirteen windows in some parts of the house; thirteen stones to a window. And because she wanted to confuse the spirits on her whereabouts, she slept in a different room every night. The eccentric lady also performed seances and would strike the bell tower every midnight.
The only pictures allowed on the premise were of the garden. We visited this small section after the tour and snapped some photos from that area.
We enjoyed the visit, but it was a bit of a tease because you don’t get to see the entire house. We really wanted to see more. Knowing the house is supposedly haunted, I would love to take a private tour and explore the house at night if that was an option. I’m envious the Ghost Adventures guys had the opportunity to investigate the house on their own. Lucky them.
Leaving the mansion, we visited the Vegetarian House for a raw meal. Despite the name “Vegetarian”, the restaurant is all vegan, serving organic Asian dishes. We were the first to arrive as they had just opened, and the place filled up soon after.
Inside the restaurant, sunlight shone through the stained glass windows. It reminded me of being inside a European church, that same holy ambience — peacefulness. Turns out the restaurant was inspired by a spiritualist and humanitarian.
For our meal, I had the tasty kelp Pad Thai and Nick ordered the Thai Roll. We shared both dishes and thought the flavors were superb. The Pad Thai had a mild and tasty almond sauce for the dressing, and the Thai Roll had a spicy almond sauce with Thai flavors.
Everyone else around us ordered a cooked meal and it all looked delicious as well. We will definitely return if ever in San Jose again.