In celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, we’ve rounded up 5 historic Bay Area homes that will give you the creeps. From Sarah Winchester’s head spinning labyrinth to the haunting of Mary Lake at the Queen Anne Hotel, these abodes are sure to make your skin crawl.
1. Winchester Mystery House. San Jose, CA
The stories and rumors behind the Winchester Mystery House have been considered unexplained haunted phenomenons to some, and tales of ever changing fabrications to others. It is evident, however, that this 126 room mansion is swarming with rich history. The home’s most colorful owner and namesake, Sarah Winchester, fell into a deep depression in 1866 after the death of her young daughter, Annie. Shortly after, her husband, William Winchester fell ill to pulmonary tuberculosis and died on March 7, 1881, leaving Sarah 48.9 percent of the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune. After pursuing guidance from a medium, who informed her that the spirits of the thousands killed by the Winchester Henry Repeating Rifle were seeking vengeance, the grieving widow sold her home in New Haven, CT and ventured west to the Santa Clara Valley. Her journey led her to a 6 bedroom home under construction, which the alleged spirit of her late husband instructed her to purchase. She began meticulously rebuilding the home, adding rooms to rooms, turning rooms into wings, and by 1906 the mansion stood 7 stories tall. Unfortunately, the home did not withstand the great quake of 1906 and the top 3 stories collapsed and trapped Sarah inside her favorite room, the Daisy Room. Sarah believed that the earthquake was a sign from the spirits, angered by her near completion of the estate. Some experts believe that the confusing nature of the home’s layout were the result of the earthquake that left the mansion in disrepair. In 1922, Sarah Winchester passed away at the age of 83 and her estate and fortunes were left to her niece, who then sold the property to investors looking to turn the mansion into a tourist attraction. The Winchester Mystery House opened to the public only a mere 5 months after the death of Sarah Winchester. Today, many visitors of the Winchester Mansion still believe the home is haunted by vicious spirits seeking vengeance; others admire its beauty and vastness, while some find Sarah Winchester herself to be a source of pure fascination. This historic mansion sees thousands of visitors year round and guided tours are available daily.
2. Rispin Mansion. Capitola, CA
This beautiful, four-story, 22 room mansion, was built in 1921 in the style of Mission, Spanish Colonial, and Mediterranean architecture by millionaire, Henry Allen Rispin, who had plans to develop the estate further. Rispin was forced to sell the mansion in 1928 due to financial hardships and over the years, the home held many owners, including a convent of nuns called the Order of Poor Clares. The nuns sold the property in 1957, after complaining of the unsettlingly cold temperatures inside. Between the 1960s and early 2000s, the property fell to neglect and became a victim of graffiti and vandalism. After abandonment, Rispin Mansion quickly became the setting of many haunted stories. It is said that one can see the shade of a Lady in Black carrying a bible wandering the halls and unlocking heavy bolts. The mansion was beautifully renovated by the city of Capitola in 2012 and can now be toured daily.
3. Queen Anne Hotel. San Francisco, CA
Originally built in 1890 as a boarding school for girls, the Queen Anne Hotel inhabits one of the friendlier ghosts one may encounter. The ghost of Mary Lake, a strict yet kind instructor of the once boarding school, is said to haunt rooms 410 and 414. During your stay at the Queen Anne, you may experience having your bags mysteriously unpacked for you, pillows fluffed and one might even be tucked into bed on a cold night. If you’re in the San Francisco area, be sure to stay at this stunning Victorian boutique hotel and receive the hospitable service that the ghost of Mary Lake is known to provide.
4. Chambers Mansion. San Francisco, CA
The Chambers’ Mansion is the setting of one of the more spine chilling tales heard in the Bay Area. Built in 1887 for Silver Rush tycoon, Richard Craig Chambers, the Chambers Mansion is home to the ghost of Claudia Chambers. Claudia and her sister, nieces and heirs to Richard Chambers’ estate, moved into the mansion in 1901 after their uncle’s death. Soon, they began despising each other deeply and Claudia’s sister purchased and moved into the home next door to avoid further confrontation with her sister. Shortly after her sister’s departure, Claudia met a grisly fate and was found dead in the Josephine room of her home. Members of the family claimed that Claudia’s death was the result of a “farm implementation accident” but the public believed that she was murdered by a jealous and insane relative. Today, the mansion has been converted into a well-respected Victorian boutique hotel and is available to visit daily.
5. Old Gilroy Hotel. Gilroy, CA
Little is known about the Old Gilroy Hotel but the rumors behind its eeriness is gruesome nonetheless. At one time, the Old Gilroy Hotel was a popular destination for travelers on Old Monterey Highway to stop and rest in the Garlic Capitol. It is said that two young women still haunt the halls and adjoining rooms of the building that once was the Old Gilroy Hotel. These apparitions are the alleged victims of a murderous man who stalked and killed several women in that very building. Previous workers of the hotel claimed to have heard banging on the doors as if someone was trapped inside of the rooms. The building is currently vacant and not available to visit, but can be viewed from the street.
Photo credit 1: http://www.ronsgoldclub.com/resources/10-homes-you-never-want-to-buy
Photo credit 2: http://www.capitolamuseum.org/1930rispin.html
Photo credit 3: http://www.sanfranciscohotelguides.com/articles/top-5-famous-san-francisco-hotels/
Photo credit 4: http://www.ronsgoldclub.com/resources/10-homes-you-never-want-to-buy
Photo credit 5: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/14616039/7365-Monterey-St-Gilroy-CA/