are Mrs. Winchester's carpenters. They were well-compensated professionals who worked hard to meet Mrs. Winchester's strange
but exacting standards. They lived, worked, and in some cases raised families on the estate. At least one of them may still
most of the mansion's history the main basement has been closed off. It wasn't until a few years ago that a second tour was
added to include the basement. This meant clearing about 80 years of accumulated debris and dust. Since tours guides have
some downtime between tours, they were given the job of sweeping up. It took several months, and during that time people kept
running into someone they didn't know. He wore overalls, and had a wheelbarrow, and looked like he might be part of the restoration
One of the guides, expecting to be alone
in the basement that day, asked his manager who the other person doing the cleaning was. The manager was confused because
no one else was scheduled to do any work in the basement. She asked what the other person looked like. The tour guide described
him as wearing overalls and having a mustache, and he was pushing a wheelbarrow.
A few weeks later a different guide asked the same question. 'Who is that guy in the basement?'
The manager was curious, and asked what he looked like. The tour guide
described him. He had a mustache. He wore overalls. He was pushing a wheelbarrow. This was very strange, no one was scheduled
to be in the basement.
The tour opened to the
public shortly thereafter. One afternoon in the basement, a guest asked her guide who the man with the wheelbarrow was. What
man, he replied. No one was supposed to be in the basement. After the tour, he asked the manager who might have been in the
basement with a wheelbarrow. No one, what did he look like? Well, he had a mustache, and wore overalls....
People kept seeing the man with the wheelbarrow. One day,
a guest pointed to the picture of the carpenters and said to her guide, 'I saw that man in the basement. He had a wheelbarrow.'
The guide told the manager what the guest had said.
Out of curiosity, the manager
showed the photo to one of the guides. The guide was surprised. 'That's him.' The manager brought in the other guide. Without
being asked, the guide pointed to the man on the far right side of the photo. 'That's the man with the wheelbarrow.'
People ask me if the house is haunted. I tell them that
I don't know, but some of Mrs. Winchester's employees were very loyal.
The Goofies and The Hayloft
2, 2007 at 11:13PM
Stephen in Winchester Mystery House
The Goofy Staircase is the first example of the switchback staircases that you'll encounter
on the tour.
According to the tour, these stairs are actually called Easy Risers (or EZ risers on some pages),
a name which I can't find any other references to. The steps on these staircases rise only a couple of inches, and the tour
guide will explain their use in the next room, but I'll spill the beans now.
Sarah Winchester suffered from crippling arthritis, and would not have been able to climb ordinary
stairs. Not that climbing Easy Risers is at all easy, at least not at a normal pace. Tour guides develop the habit of taking
two or three steps at a time in order to keep a normal pace, but I'd recommend walking slowly if you don't want to fall down.
They're even more challenging when heading downstairs, but with a couple of exceptions, the tour route only uses these short
steps when traveling up.
The Goofies, as they're called by guides, lead up one floor to.... THE HAYLOFT! What untold
mysteries await you in THE HAYLOFT?
The Hayloft isn't a very compelling name, and that's okay because it isn't a very compelling
room. There would be very little reason to stop here except that it takes a long time for thirty people to climb the Goofy
Staircase, and if the group didn't wait in the room at the top of the stairs, people would get lost. Of course, this means
the most eager guests, the ones that rushed up the Goofies with the guide, are left waiting. This is a good point to ask a
question, though most of the obvious ones are answered during the course of the tour.
This is also the time that any psychics on the tour will make themselves known. Keep an eye
out for anyone walking around the room sensing cold spots, channeling the deceased, etc. An attraction like the Mystery House
brings in a certain number of "out-of-the-ordinaries", and that's a good thing, but the psychics I encountered in the Hayloft
seemed much more impressed with themselves than their revelations would warrant.
One visiting psychic did tell a friend of mine that the Hayloft was the site of a particularly
brutal fight between two Winchester farmhands, and that one of the men died there. I don't think there are any records of
this event, but if you'd like to simulate a psychic experience, you might mention the murder to your guide.
Since The Hayloft is more of a gathering place than an essential stop on the tour, the tour
script takes the opportunity to provide some details on how the house and property were distributed after Mrs. Winchester's
death. Specifically, the script explains that the mansion itself was not mentioned in the will, and that the furniture was
left to her niece, who took what she wanted and sold the rest.
For some reason, many people on tour become outraged that her niece would do such a thing,
and that no attempt was made by the family to keep the house. I've never understood this outrage. I'm sure the furniture was
quite nice, but unless you live in a 160-room mansion, what are you going to do with it? Likewise, unless you have Mrs. Winchester's
wealth, which the niece did not, you won't be able to manage a 24,000 square foot home. Trust me, it takes a lot of staff.
As you leave the Hayloft, you'll go down a couple of long hallways (which actually double back
on themselves), then head down a set of Easy Risers to the 13th Bathroom, where you'll have a chance to see where Mrs. Winchester
showered. Please refrain from picturing Mrs. Winchester in the shower as you go . . . .