Sarah Winchester

Birth Name:
Sarah Lockwood Pardee
Birth Date:
September 1, 1839
Birth Place:
New Haven, Connecticut
Death Date:
September 5, 1922
Place of Death:
Llanada Villa, 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, California
Cause of Death:
Congestive heart failure
Cemetery Name:
Evergreen Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Business and Finance
Sarah Winchester was an American heiress who amassed great wealth after the death of her husband, William Wirt Winchester (son of Winchester Repeating Arms Company founder Oliver Winchester). Her inheritance included $20 million ($606.5 million in 2022) as well as a 50% holding in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which made her one of the wealthiest women in the world at the time. Sarah Winchester was, supposedly, so racked with guilt and haunted by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester firearms that she started building a house in California because a medium advised her that endless building would appease the dead. Construction, which continued 24 hours per day 7 days a week, only stopped when she died. The only problem with this narrative is that it is 100% completely false. And to make matters worse, the owners of the Winchester Mystery House continue to this day to repeat this myth to thousands of visitors every day to the home in San Jose. The fact of the matter is Sarah Winchester was not a crazy, guilt-ridden millionaire who sought guidence from ghost whispers, but rather she was highly educated, spoke multiple languages fluently, and moved to California for her health. She purchased a modest (by her standards) farmhouse and started work on her architectual marval. Aside from its immense size and Victorian style architecture, the House has a number of unique characteristics. To begin, it is undeniably a labyrinth. There are literally miles of maze-like corridors and twisting hallways, some of which have dead ends—forcing the traveler to turn around and back-up. There are also some centrally located passages and stairways that serve as shortcuts allowing a virtual leap from one side of the House to the other. Although Sarah’s labyrinthine House serves the same function as the ancient prototypes, her labyrinth is more a symbolic introductory step into her puzzle. The greatest test for the initiate lies in his ability to understand and identify Mrs. Winchester’s remarkable mix of symbols and numbered code. Sarah’s love of Geometry and specific symmetric numbers is prominently displayed throughout the House. When Winchester died in 1922 the house had 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens.

Fun Facts

Well ahead of her time, Mrs. Winchester employed many high tech inventions of her day. She is believed to have been the first builder to use of wool insulation. The House was lit with carbide gas lights that were supplied by its own gas manufacturing plant. Panels of electric buttons were used to operate the lights by means of electro-mechanical strikers that caused a spark to ignite the various lamps. Sarah was also among the first to make use of a shower—and elevators, two driven by hydraulics, and a third by electricity. Practically a small town unto itself, the Winchester estate was virtually self sufficient with its own carpenter and plumber’s workshops along with an on-premise water and electrical supply, and a sewage drainage system.

Tour guides at the House are more than happy to tell the tale claiming Mrs. Winchester held nightly séances in the blue room from midnight until two in the morning, talking to ghosts about what construction should be accomplished the following day. Winchester’s staff, who spent every day with her, stated she had no interest in séances and there is no record of them being held in the house. In fact,  records show that the blue room was used as the gardener’s bedroom.

Mrs. Winchester did very little work on the House during the final decade of her life. It was during this time she expanded her immense wealth and investments and contributed generously to multiple charities across the United States.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Evergreen Cemetery

769 Ella T Grasso Blvd

New Haven, Connecticut, 06519


North America


Map of Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut
Map of Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut

Grave Location:

Highland Avenue, Plot 52, Grave 4

Grave Location Description

As you enter the cemetery drive straight ahead until the road ends. Turn right and take the second road from the left up the hill – this is Highland Avenue (if you are level with the lake you took the wrong road). Drive up the hill and as it veers to the right look for the Winchester Family monument on your right.

Grave Location GPS

41.3010723, -72.9478164

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