Welcome. My name is John Hansen. I was Mrs. Winchester’s foreman for most of her 38 years of building. It was my job to try and interpret the lady’s plans; make sure we had work going on round the clock.
Mrs. Winchester was her own architect and some say she got most of her ideas from spirits in nightly seances. All I know is she drew plans whenever the mood struck her; wrote’em on paper bags, napkins, sometimes even on the dining room tablecloths. Mrs. Winchester was very particular about her construction, always checking up on her carpenters. I remember once when a whole wing of rooms we just finished didn’t meet with her approval. She has us tear them all down and rebuild them.
Fussy? Well, maybe but she took real good care of all of us. Some of us worked as many as 30 years for her. She even provided many of us places for our families to live. The home in front of you is the one she built for my family and me. When she passed away, she even left cash for some of us. Now, after her death in 1922, these grounds were opened to the public as Winchester Park, a very special place for the folks of San Jose to come have picnics and parties. Tours started in about 1923.
Over the years, time had taken its toll on the house and grounds, but in 1973 they received a new life when restoration began on the mansion and the grounds. The restoration resulted in the Winchester House becoming a National Historic Landmark, number 868.
Well, my wife and two boys hope you enjoy your tour of the gardens today. We know you’ll have as much fun exploring the house and gardens today as we had in building Mrs. Winchester’s fascinating mansion back then. Well, I’ll be talking to you a little later. Bye for now.