Midsummer Scream 2016: Winchester Mystery House Panel

Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA

Day two of our Midsummer Scream coverage looks at the other panels [that I attended or stopped by] over the weekend.  If you missed yesterday's park and haunt announcement recaps from Dark Harbor, Halloween Horror Nights, Fright Fest, and Knott's Scary Farm, check them out!

For today, we'll first look at the Sunday morning Second Stage presentation by the Winchester Mystery House.  Located in San Jose California, this sprawling estate is as close as you'll get to a real life haunted house the way theme parks present them.  Owned by Sarah Winchester, wife of the heir of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and fortune, the Winchester Mystery House began as an eight room farmhouse purchased from a previous owner.  But Mrs. Winchester soon commenced continuous construction and expansion over the next 38 years, financed by her tremendous wealth and daily income of $1000, and spurred by the belief that her family was haunted by the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles.  The original farmhouse was soon engulfed by a sprawling mansion with a maze of rooms and hallways, doors and windows opening up to walls, dead end corridors, stairways to nowhere, and doors into elevator shafts.  Though Sarah did have close friends and their families over, she was a notoriously private woman (only two photographs of her exist), so curiosity about her estate quickly spread throughout the neighborhood.  The house was damaged by the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and from then on, the entire front of the house was boarded up and left in a state of disrepair.  Work continued on the back half, however, on and off until her death in 1922.

For this presentation, General Manager Walter Magnuson and Director of Communications Tim O'Day began with an in-depth look at the history of the Winchesters, the tragic deaths of Sarah's husband and only child, move west, and construction of the house.  The highly informative session then delved into the stories of the supernatural associated with this eerie edifice over the years, from reports of hauntings from guests and staff to observations of spiritual aura from psychics and ghost hunters.  Afterwards, the duo invited Peter Overstreet, event producer for a new offering the house announced for the Halloween season of 2016: the Halloween Candlelight Tours.  This brand new experience will provide a new tour and navigated layout for the first time in 25 years, bringing guests to many rooms not previously accessed by the public.  Guests will only have the dim flicker of [an electric] candle to illuminate their way through the spectral spaces of the house, with their imaginations (and maybe some spooky creatures) to induce dread and creepy fear into this interactive experience that is part tour and part theater and possibly part actual haunting (depending on how deeply you believe in this sort of thing).

The Halloween Candlight Tours will run ten select evenings from October 7 - 31.  More information is and ticket purchases will be available at the Winchester Mystery House site.  If you're in Northern California during this time, go check this event out!

Here are all the slides from the presentation:

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.