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Winchester Mystery House Opens Rooms To Public For First Time

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose on Thursday opened new doors that allow visitors to view parts of the home that have never been seen by the public before.

Owner and heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune, Sarah Winchester was convinced she was haunted by the souls of those killed by the guns that made her family rich.

She constantly constructed and reconstructed the South Bay house's 160 rooms for 38 years, supposedly to throw off the spirits and give herself places to hide.

It will be the first time tourists are allowed to enter the house through the front door, just one of numerous areas that were opened to the public with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Word is that Sarah Winchester didn't want anyone to see the hallway behind the front door because it wasn't furnished.

"There's a story about Teddy Roosevelt knocking on the door and she would not let him in," said General Manager Walter Magnuson.

Another room, known as the South Witches Cap, is just one of 40 rooms in the Winchester Mystery House that will now be open to the public.

The third-floor corridors are part of the house said to be visited by ghosts.

"I know that there are several people who'd love to hold a séance here because it has such a concentrated energy," said house historian Janan Boehme. "Sometimes you'll hear someone whispering your name and there's no one there."

In the north wing, visitors can see remnants of damage and artifacts from the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

The Mystery House is about to pique a lot more interest. The story of Sarah Winchester is now being produced as a film starring actress Helen Mirren.

"This house is a manifestation of Sarah Winchester and I think in that sense it's haunted," said Mirren in a recent interview with KPIX 5.

The ribbon cutting Thursday marked the opening of the new tour through the previously off-limit areas of the Winchester House. It is the first all-new tour to be offered at the home in more than two decades.

The tour will only be available for a limited time, so interested parties should mark their calendars.

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