San Jose invented the monster home. Sarah Winchester, the wife the rifle magnate William Wirt Winchester, gained notoriety as she continually added to her sprawling mansion in an orchard area west of San Jose. Later myths contended that she was driven to build by spirits with whom she was in contact through seances. Today, the Winchester Mystery House is surrounded by Santana Row and the Valley Fair Shopping Center. It remains an attraction for visitors seeking the quirky, spooky and creepy and is the subject of a 2018 thriller, “Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built,” starring Helen Mirren as the reclusive heiress.
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