11.2.05

William Ackerman

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In 1884 a woman named Sarah L. Winchester, the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, began building her house in San Jose, California. Sarah probably began crazy, but she got worse. Someone (probably the Gypsey wife of a particularly rapacious general contractor) told her that she would live forever if she kept building. Sarah did as she was told. The result was a structure containing 1,257 windows, 950 doors and 40 staircases which required 20,000 gallons of paint to cover. Windows opened to other windows which opened to yet other windows only to have a door appear outside of that. Staircases climbed floor after floor only to end at a door which opened to a seven-story fall. The Great San Francisco Earthquake toppled three stories of the place, reducing the building from seven stories to four. I doubt Sarah ever actually wielded a hammer herself, but I like to think of her brandishing a 32 oz. hammer over a 20 penny nail when she let out a gasp and died.

Sarah L. Winchester and I have much in common. While I do not share her delusion of immortality, I am nonetheless a compulsive builder...

from the website of William Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill records; an article in This Old House Magazine's April 2002 issue.

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