Who cares about a haunted house a week after Halloween? / by Anna Rae

A:  Me. 


In the wee hours of the night, when I am not a rock for anyone but myself, I have come to a finishing point with the Winchester Mansion.  The house didn’t have a chance to uphold its opulent supernatural composure with my color palette. 


If you’ve not heard of this fantastic haunted house, here is the wiki. My first introduction to this house outside hearsay was in a video by an artist named Jeremy Blake.  His story is also fascinating but he had a dreamy cotton candy film at SFMOCA and it hit me hard. It’s hard to believe that the artist’s film is uploaded to YouTube and has a pathetic 58 👍. Anyway, the reason I’m so moved by the film is partially the fascination with the house itself but also that Blake was able visually mirror the notion I carry that a house is alive. Architecture, in all, has narrative and Blake saw the narratives from the living, dead, and even the era, the rifle and freedom as having their own narrative. The Winchester House is a portal to guilt for me. Yeah, the Wild West, the eccentricity of the architect, and the “Wild West New Age” notion that earthly work brings spiritual gain is all interesting but what drove Sarah Winchester to build so completely that each nail hammered was counted thirteen times… was guilt. We do our best, like any other human who lives in the 20th c,. to power through that guilt but sometimes it’s like a sap in there that drips intermittently to remind us, “you could have done better.. Remember?” Her home is a knotted mess of ghosts of guilt and I’m sure she’d have found a way to provide something just as spectacular even if the Winchester fortune wasn’t so massive. 




Dear Sarah, 

     I do hope that your earthly work provided a freeing life here and wherever you are now and I thank you for the architectural manifestation of your healing process.