In the spring of 1973, I spent the night in the #Winchester Mystery House – in the room where #Sarah Winchester died. Scheduled for release this February is the movie “Winchester: #The House that Ghosts Built,” starring Helen Mirren. News of the pending movie release and trailers teasing the terrifying and “true” tale brought to mind trailers of my own, vignette-like recollections of my time locked in the brooding mansion; the house some called the most haunted in America.

One of our own freelance writers was terrified [VIDEO]

One of our own freelance writers was terrified by the trailer [VIDEO]. Understandable, given the promo for the film: “After the sudden death of her family, firearms heiress Sarah Winchester becomes convinced that she's haunted by the souls of those killed by guns."

The mansion looms up off Winchester Boulevard

I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley just a few miles from San Jose, where the mansion looms up off Winchester Boulevard behind what used to be a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant.

I heard and believed the stories

Growing up, I passed the house often. I heard and believed the stories about Mrs. Winchester being afraid of the ghosts of those killed by the famous Winchester rifle. She believed she had to keep building, expanding the residence, adding rooms and even doors that went nowhere, clutching to her breast the sounds of workmen’s hammers and saws as her audio amulet against angry apparitions, her talisman combatting nightly terrors.

Spending the night in a haunted house

After earning a journalism degree from San Jose State University in 1969, I found work as a reporter at the San Jose News, an afternoon newspaper. It was a time of transition for The News and its morning counterpart, the San Jose Mercury, and I found myself the youngest reporter on either staff.

I found myself assigned to more feature-like stories like skating with the Roller Derby and, in this case, spending the night in a haunted house.

A completely different Sarah Winchester

I did my research. I discovered a completely different Sarah Winchester; a Sarah Winchester not terrified by vengeful ghosts but rather, as I wrote back then, a “kindly, benevolent, clever recluse,” giving work to the unemployed in times of recession. “There is nothing mysterious about the Winchester House,” said James Perkins, one of the mansion’s original carpenters, I read in one early story about the heiress. E.F Wolters, a plumber who worked at the mansion for 30 years, agreed according to another early story.

Nothing happened

Other stories confirmed her benevolent nature. So, “except for fearless hordes of ants and spiders that tormented me throughout the night” as I wrote back in June 1973, nothing happened to me during my night in the Winchester Mystery House in the bedroom in which Sarah Winchester died in 1922.

After all, who doesn’t like a good ghost story?

I still plan to see the movie, of course. After all, who doesn’t like a good ghost story? And, can anyone really prove they didn't happen?