When you know as much stuff about Disney history as Jim Korkis does, you get asked a lot of questions. Sometimes it’s pretty basic like “When did Disneyland open?” Other times it’s more obscure like “When did Mickey Mouse start wearing gloves?” Then there’s the question that’s totally off the wall like “How much does Walt Disney World weigh?” No, really, someone asked him that once.
By the way, the answers are July 17, 1955, in the 1929 cartoon The Opry House, and haven’t got a clue. But, I digress.
Jim is back in the Lounge once again, finishing up a conversation we started last week. We heard all about his latest book, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World. Today, we take a look at his other recent publication, The Vault of Walt: Volume 4. Jim always has terrific stories to tell about Disney. Today is no different.
Earlier this month, I took a trip up to the San Francisco Bay Area and paid a visit to my friends at the Walt Disney Family Museum. I finally got to see their special exhibition Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination. By all means, go see it. It runs through January 3. While I was there, I was also invited to drive an hour down the road to San Jose to visit the Winchester Mystery House. Now, unless you’ve lived in the Bay Area, like I once did, you may not be familiar with the Winchester Mystery House. It’s a sprawling Victorian mansion in San Jose once owned by the widow Sarah Winchester. Sarah’s late husband, William Winchester was heir to the Winchester firearms fortune. Sarah was quite well off financially.
In 1884, Sarah purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and commenced adding onto it--for the next 38 years. At the time of Sarah’s death in 1922 the house spread over six acres and contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. Why Sarah kept building all those years remains a mystery. Was she distraught over the deaths of her husband and a daughter in infancy? Did she believe that continually building would somehow appease evil spirits? Was she just a kindly woman who chose to spend her money supporting local builders, carpenters, landscapers and artisans? Whatever the reason, the continuous construction resulted in a labyrinth of rooms and hallways, staircases running into ceilings, doorways leading to nowhere and all manner of building oddities.
You can still tour the house today and marvel at its mind-boggling construction and design. Visit during the holidays and you can see the house decorated in Christmas finery with over 20 custom designed Christmas trees. On select nights you can enjoy, like I did, the Spirit of Christmas with carolers, festive beverages and holiday treats. Don’t be surprised if you see some snow fall too. Here to tell us more about the Winchester Mystery House is Janan Boehme.
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