There is a certain spookiness, a certain dread, and even a tinge of horror most people feel deep down inside when they look at a house that isn’t particularly well-built, or a house that simply “looks weird” at first blush. The eerie house on the block stirs in the back of our collective subconscious and has for hundreds of years. The house you don’t want to go into was a cornerstone of writers from Charles Dickens to Stephen King, the touchstone for movies from Halloween to The Goonies, and a staple of television from The Twilight Zone to Supernatural.
This collective subconscious aversion to the weird house on the block really reflects an unspoken fear: No One Wants to Live in a Weird House.
A room addition is a great way to expand a home. For a relatively small investment you can add a bedroom or a bathroom to a home, and not have to go to the expense and hassle of moving to a completely new home. But a concern most homeowners have when adding a room to their house is will their house look the same?
American Horror in San Jose
Probably the most classic and iconic case of a room addition gone horribly awry is the famous Winchester House, or Winchester Mystery House , in San Jose, California. The Winchester House is reputedly one of the most haunted places in the United States. It served as an inspiration for Stephen King’s “Rose Red” and, according to Eric Kripke, helped supply the surname for Sam and Dean Winchester in “Supernatural”.
The Winchester Mystery House was born out of the fevered imagination of Sarah Winchester. Sarah was widow to the master gun maker, William Winchester, who made the rifles and pistols that took the lives of countless people, in both war and peacetime. These were the guns that helped the United States realize Manifest Destiny and expand to the Pacific Ocean.
As the story goes, William and Sarah’s baby daughter both died. Some say suddenly. Sarah Winchester fell into a deep depression and slipped into a coma. Doctors feared for her life. She recovered however, and, like many women of the 19th Century, consulted a Medium. Spiritualism, psychics, and the belief that one could commune with the dead was all the rage in the 1900s. No doubt sparked by the savage wars that raged across United States and Europe; wars that killed thousands of young men in their prime and denied their families any chance to speak to their children ever again.
Wars, remember, that had been fueled by the Winchester rifle.
The Medium told Sarah Winchester that she was cursed by the dead whose lives had been claimed by Winchester guns. The spirits were vengeful and angry, hell bent on dogging Sarah Winchester and the Winchester name for all eternity. There was one way out, the Medium suggested. A loophole that may appease the restless ghosts that tormented Sarah Winchester.
Buy a plot of land, out west, in California’s Santa Clara Valley, and build a house. And build and build and build. Sarah Winchester’s only hope of a happy life is if she invested her bloodstained fortune in a house that would never ever be complete. A house so big that it could accommodate the souls of all those ripped from their mortal coil by Winchester firearms. And because the deaths from those firearms continued long after William’s death, the construction must continue too, and never ever stop.
Sarah moved to California and, with a kind of commitment that only the truly mad can muster, began construction on a mansion large enough for every murdered soul on the planet. Construction started on the Winchester Mansion in 1884 and continued around the clock until Sarah Winchester’s death in 1922.
There was no plan for construction, no unity of design, no style. The plan for the Winchester Mansion came out every day from Sarah Winchester’s cursed mind and resulted in a mansion that at one point was six stories tall, had two basements, three elevators, 2 ballrooms, and 40 bedrooms. The roof is dotted by 17 chimneys. Along with hallways and staircases to nowhere, and some say the ghosts of the dead lurking just beyond, waiting in the dark.
The Winchester Mystery House stands as the penultimate room addition gone horribly awry.
Modern Horror Stories
While the Winchester House may be at the top of the list of room additions gone wrong, a lot of neighborhoods are filled with homes that contain little horrors. Most of these minor horror stories are the results of people who tried to add a room without professional help, or the benefit of permits from their city building department.
The bathroom addition that is too small for anyone to use and where the plumbing doesn’t quite work right. The bedroom addition that is always cold or hot because the walls weren’t insulated properly. The extra living room where the floors creak and sag because they weren’t installed correctly.
Worst of all the homes that have additional rooms built onto them that look nothing like the original house. We see them every so often; the former one story ranch house that has been topped with an awkward first floor that doesn’t look at all like the original house. We drive past them, glancing uncomfortably at the construction, shudder to ourselves, and speed up and away. “Don’t go in there”, the little child side of us whispers.
There is Hope…
While no one could have helped Sarah Winchester avert her twisted fate, a professional room addition contractor can help you avoid building your own version of the Winchester Mystery House. A professional contractor, like Precise Home Builders, employs a team of designer and architects and structural engineers. Those professionals will make sure that your new addition looks like something that was a part of your original home.
When you use the right contractor they will also come with the right tradesmen and craftsmen to make your room addition look and feel just right. Like a space that belongs, like a space where you can finally find the kind of peace Sarah Winchester so desperately wanted to find.