The Winchester Mystery House
San Jose, California
Background: Work on this home began in 1884 and lasted through 1922, when owner and designer Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester rifle company, died. At one point in time, the property sprawled over 161 acres, but has since been reduced to just four acres. Why Its Unique: As PM previously reported, Sarah Winchester was never a huge fan of blueprints. Instead, she preferred an on-the-fly design strategy, sketching rooms and architectural oddities whenever inspiration struck. Notable features include 40 bedrooms, three elevators, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, and 467 doorways. The house originally had seven levels, but an earthquake in 1906 collapsed three of them. Tourists now flock to the house to see its many quirks, including a staircase that leads straight to the ceiling.