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You bring the Ouija board, I'll bring the spirits...
March 16, 2014 11:18 PM   Subscribe

The infamous, sprawling Winchester Mystery House has plans to allow overnight stays and full onsite alcohol consumption
posted by The Whelk (46 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just saw this on Facebook and some friends and I are already packing the car.
posted by mykescipark at 11:19 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Meetup?
posted by mollymayhem at 11:25 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Somehow I had never even heard of the WMH until Stuff You Should Know covered it last year. Totally up my alley, and now I want to go even more!
posted by p3t3 at 11:26 PM on March 16


With all those nooks and crannies had to be plenty of flask sipping going on. Time to monetize that alcohol stream!
posted by telstar at 11:34 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Being drunk in the Winchester Mystery House would be amazing. Being around other drunk people there would be awful.
posted by ryanrs at 11:42 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


What if one of those drunk people is me with a dowsing rod And ultimate confidence

What if indeed.
posted by The Whelk at 11:45 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


As a vocal skeptic on the subject of haunting and known lover of booze, I am sure I will be the first victim.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:50 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Somehow I assume guns come into this equation but I'm not quite clear yet on how.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:52 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


...Of the ghosts y'all are totally imagining or the notorious Pink Elephants. Or both.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:52 PM on March 16


Somehow I assume guns come into this equation but I'm not quite clear yet on how.

Rock salt arounds.
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


As a vocal skeptic on the subject of haunting and known lover of booze, I am sure I will be the first victim.

Never go full Scooby Doo.
posted by The Whelk at 11:54 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Kind of a non-story since the venue isn't commenting, but hopefully the overnights and the boozing won't be synched up. A bunch of drunks ghost hunting through a National Register landmark is a recipe for damage to finishes, and pretty much a textbook definition of poor stewardship.

(Took the tour, heard spectral piano playing, which felt oddly boring as it was happening. Strange, strange house.)
posted by Scram at 11:59 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


So, this got me thinking. Are there by chance any famous haunted houses in Washington or Colorado?
posted by ryanrs at 12:05 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


A bunch of drunks ghost hunting through a National Register landmark is a recipe for damage to finishes a wonderful comedic novella premise.
posted by The Whelk at 12:06 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Just read Blithe Spirit.
posted by mykescipark at 12:29 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Full onsite alcohol consumption in a house with stairways to nowhere. Seems that GPS locators might be useful.
posted by Cranberry at 12:58 AM on March 17


Has anyone been to the Mystery House? You travel with a group lead by a guide, as to keep you from wandering off into non-public areas and/or getting lost. Plus there are some stairs that are really short, because Mrs. Winchester had trouble walking later in her life, and really short stairs were her solution.

In short: alcohol and overnight stays sound like a disaster there, even if they aren't combined. There aren't any ming vases to stumble over, but there are amazing Tiffany stained glass windows a-plenty.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:28 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


YES. GOD YES.

But let me know when they allow psychedelic consumption onsite. I'm down for something shamanic.
posted by X-Himy at 4:06 AM on March 17


Drink what you will, or can.

it won't save you.


it didn't save us.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:08 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


So what you're saying is, they place will finally be haunted by actual spirits? I'll be going now.
posted by JHarris at 4:10 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


oh. the title already made a similar joke. never mind.
posted by JHarris at 4:13 AM on March 17


Plus there are some stairs that are really short, because Mrs. Winchester had trouble walking later in her life, and really short stairs were her solution.

The thing that irritated me about the tour when I did it years ago was that the guide kept presenting purely practical modifications, like the shallow stairs you mention and the window set into the bathroom door as further evidence of the house's paranormal roots. In fact, Mrs Winchester set a window in the bathroom door because she was an old lady and wanted the servants to see what had happened if she fell in the bathroom and injured herself.

The problem with lumping practical stuff like this into the house's paranormal narrative is that it devalues genuinely inexplicable features, such as that other flight of stairs that ends in an unbroken ceiling.

Incidentally, did you know Alan Moore and Stan Woch used a fictional version of the Winchester House in a 1996 issue of Swamp Thing? Details here.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:19 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Aren't there some doorways that open onto thin air? Hope those are safely locked.

I would assume an actual overnight stay would involve staff people on premises to keep the shenanigans within the boundaries of whatever their insurance company demands, but maybe they're willing to take those risks, in which case, I look forward to the hilarious but hopefully not tragic news articles and lawsuits.
posted by emjaybee at 5:15 AM on March 17


According to the article, the overnight stays will be in out-buildings, not in the house itself. The booze license is connected to an on-site cafe that they are looking to expand to a restaurant, which usually precludes flasks and ragers.
posted by muddgirl at 5:55 AM on March 17


It's always been my personal theory that the IBM 3346 Winchester drive (which was designed and built in San Jose) was named for this house, rather than directly for the rifle.
posted by MtDewd at 6:52 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


I've always wanted to stay in the Winchester Mystery House! Time to do another California road trip!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:59 AM on March 17


I would totally bring some of the now legal Colorado edibles for my stay in the Winchester Mystery House. Definitely a Sativa too...
posted by Eekacat at 7:49 AM on March 17


The whelk are you already the drunk

It is only Monday

I think
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:41 AM on March 17


Get in the car Doleful. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


And next we can go on a car trip to that closed summer camp next to the gloomy lake! You know, the one where all those teenagers disappeared...c'mon, it'll be fun!
posted by happyroach at 9:16 AM on March 17


I know you're being sarcastic but that does sound like my idea of fun.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


The thing that irritated me about the tour when I did it years ago was that the guide kept presenting purely practical modifications, like the shallow stairs you mention and the window set into the bathroom door as further evidence of the house's paranormal roots. In fact, Mrs Winchester set a window in the bathroom door because she was an old lady and wanted the servants to see what had happened if she fell in the bathroom and injured herself.

Well, I know who I'm *not* going on the tour with!
posted by mudpuppie at 9:35 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Get in the car Doleful. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole.

It's like, if you weren't making Supernatural jokes the world would be wrong somehow.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:04 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


With my luck I'll wind up there the same night as the Ghostfacers.
posted by Mick at 10:38 AM on March 17


I read this sci-fi novel as a kid, and literally the only thing I remember about it is a bunch of dystopian-future-people living in the Winchester Mystery House! Like, all the time!

Maybe they could get a package deal going with the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. San Jose was definitely a cool place to grow up for a kid interested in ghost stories and arcane mysteries.
posted by muddgirl at 10:39 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


ohgod are we doing Supernatural jokes now? I want to eat The Whelk's tailor.

I'd like to build a scale model of the Winchester house. But I suspect that doing so would preclude ever doing anything else for the rest of my life.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:48 AM on March 17


If I were to be plagued by tiny ghosts though I feel I'd have no choice but to commit to the project.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:52 AM on March 17


Has anyone been to the Mystery House?

No.

Although I live nearby, I've heard from those who've been to skip it, as the whole thing's based on what it used to be (interesting), not what it is now (not very, but one of the few places around Silicon Valley where out-of-town visitors can be off-loaded for a couple hours).
posted by Rash at 11:24 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Related - the Top Ten Lies about the Winchester Mystery House.
posted by Rash at 11:38 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


My tailor is not for eating.

( the highlight of my Dean outfit last hslloween was a t-shirt from the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, an experience I thoroughly enjoyed going through. )
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


There's a famous hotel not too far from where I lived during university. One weekend, some friends and I drove there to spend the weekend staying at the hotel, and we did so on acid.

Sadly, we saw no ghosts. But the acid trip sure was fun!
posted by zardoz at 2:31 PM on March 17


I'm going to take a wild swing and guess this won't be terribly wheelchair accessible.

More's the pity.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 3:17 PM on March 17


I'm going to take a wild swing and guess this won't be terribly wheelchair accessible.

So funny you should mention that. I was typing up an anecdote about how the Winchester Mystery House nearly ruined my (now 5+year) relationship, but scuttled it for being wordy. I'll try to condense it.

My girlfriend uses a wheelchair, but can walk for short distances. We were passing through San Jose on our way back to LA on our first out-of-town trip as a couple. She really wanted to stop since a friend had told her there was a reduced, accessible tour of the WMH.

The ticket seller laughed off the accessible tour, but said that since Mrs. Winchester had mobility problems, we might not have any issues. That was probably the stupidest thing I've agreed to in my life.

Those low-rise stairs? They wind back and forth and back and forth on narrow landings, which I had to thread the wheelchair through. No two doorways in that house are the same width. So, some we could wheel through, others she had to get up and I had to break the chair down. The tour guides don't start their speech until everyone is in the next room, so despite our pleas for him to start up without us, we entered every single room to the waiting glares of other tour patrons, and the tour behind us was nipping at our heels.

At the end of the tour, I was tired, frustrated, and a nervous wreck. And on top of that, nothing in the house made sense, which just drove me crazy. We got back in the car and neither of us said a word until we got past Gilroy.

We later found out that her friend was thinking about the elevators making the tour accessible. The elevators that have been out of service since the 1906 earthquake.
posted by hwyengr at 3:43 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Not to be a hater, but it's going to take more than alcohol to make the WMH interesting. (Hint: I think X-Himy is on the right track.) Old Mrs. Winchester may have been crazy, and she may have decorated/remodeled her sprawling old Victorian house to appease her troubled conscience, but unless you have a fetish for odd staircases and old timey fenestration the WMH just ain't all that interesting.

Instead, head an hour up the coast to the Moss Beach Distillery, which is also reportedly haunted, and which definitely serves alcohol, as well as excellent food. You may not see any ghosts, but at least you can enjoy a great meal with a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.
posted by mosk at 5:40 PM on March 17


That list if ten Winchester House lies (above) is drawn from Mary Ignoffo's extensively-researched 2012 Sarah Winchester biography.

I'm guessing Mudpuppie wouldn't much want to do the tour with Ignoffo either, but then (as the author herself says) "I believe real life is better than fiction".
posted by Paul Slade at 2:34 AM on March 18


We spent five years or so living in Los Gatos a while back, and during our time there we went on a the WMH tour. I'm not able to say how interesting I would have found the tour under ideal circumstances, but I can say that during this tour, we were terribly distracted by the horrendously stinky farts that somebody in the group kept cutting loose. Seriously, they were dreadful: they were the first thing my wife mentioned when she came across this story on facebook, and that was nearly fifteen years ago. So: flatulence bad enough to be vividly remembered fifteen years after the fact.

The tour, as mentioned above, proceeds in fits and starts...the tour guide will not start reciting the info about the room that you've just moved into, until the entire group has actually moved into it. And in our case, the unknown person who was in the throes of some horrifying gastrointestinal catastrophe was synced up to this repeating pattern, emitting another toxic cloud at every stop, just when you thought you'd left the miasma behind. The routine went:

* walk slowly and awkwardly through some weirdly proportioned space
* stop, wait for the group
* eyewatering stench manifests
* brief snippet of information from the tour guide about something you couldn't really understand because you were busy trying not to suffocate

...and repeat. For what seemed like seven hours.

We did not return to the Winchester Mystery House. Many years later we had a "better" time at the House on the Rock, for certain values of "better" including (but not guaranteed to exceed) "less exposure to biological weapon grade effluvia".
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:56 PM on March 18


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