Famous for ordering the construction of a unique California estate known as the Winchester Mystery House, she oversaw four decades of continuous additions to the mansion because she believed her family was cursed and took the word of a psychic medium that tragedy would ensue if the labyrinthine home was ever completed.
Upon her husband's death of tuberculosis in early 1881, she was given ownership of half of the Winchester Company, meaning that she lived on approximately one thousand dollars per day (which, in 2015, would equal close to 25,000 dollars a day).
Although Winchester's biographer disputes the claim, legend holds it that, due to Winchester's obsession with the number thirteen, many architectural features of the Winchester Mystery House (such as bathrooms, windows, etc.) were constructed in numbers or clusters of thirteen.
Born on an uncertain date in March of 1839 to Leonard Pardee and Sarah Burn, Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester spent her youth in Newhaven, Connecticut. In 1862, she married Winchester Repeating Arms Company heir William Wirt Winchester; tragically, the couple's one child, Annie Pardee Winchester, died in infancy.
Like Winchester's father-in-law, Oliver Winchester, railway and shipping mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed enough wealth through his business pursuits to fund his descendants' construction of magnificent estates that later served as tourist attractions.