Behind the Exhibit: The Typing Machine

Tonight, Spanish multimedia artist Diego Romero will bring his interactive exhibit “The Typing Machine” to El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 in Harlem. The showcase marks the eleventh incarnation of this ongoing series, in which visitors can write and share messages using a vintage typewriter. “Spectators can participate by typing a message, which we then scan, frame, and hang on the wall,” says Romero of the confessional project. “The participant also keeps a carbon paper copy of the message.” Within the exhibition space, the messages are placed onto the walls in real time and colored thread is used to connect certain words that are repeated, and Romero also catalogs messages from past shows online.

“The Typing Machine”

“The Typing Machine”

Both as a participant and a viewer, the project’s open-ended nature – the instructions simply say to “type your message” – is illuminating. And as the mastermind behind it all, Romero says witnessing the innumerable ways that people choose to communicate and represent themselves never fails to fascinate. “When I started, I didn’t realize it was going to be a three-year journey,” he says.

Diego Romero

Diego Romero

But after three years, he adds, the first response he received is still the one that sticks out the most. “It was a very enigmatic message,” he recalls. “It said, ‘My dear children, when you will get this message, a year will have passed and we will be here, in the heart of the world. Love, dad.’”

Adding to the mystique of the project is how uncommon typewriters have become; in fact, Romero has occasionally had to provide tutorials on how to use the outmoded tools. Still, he says, there’s nothing like the tactile experience of a using mechanical keyboard. “I noticed how fascinating that machine was to my 9-year-old my nephews,” he says. “And I wondered if that fascination would become extended. It turned out that is it, and people are excited to participate.”

Visit El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 at 215 E. 99th Street, New York, NY, 10029 from November 15 – 26.  The opening reception starts at 6pm on November 15.

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Our Hearts Can’t Handle the Story Behind Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Tattoo

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan might come off as a bad boy, especially thanks to his villainous role as Negan on The Walking Dead, but he’s actually a big softie. In fact, one of his tattoos (he has about 10 total) is dedicated to his dog, who passed away, and the story will melt your heart.

After his longtime pet, Bisou, passed away in 2015, the actor decided to honor her and their long journey together with an intricate, script-style tattoo of her name on his forearm. Even though some time has passed since he lost his dog, when telling the story about why he got the new ink to Hudson Valley News Network in April 2017, he still got choked up.

«She was a dog that I got 19 years ago, that I rescued. It’s going to make me tear up, I suck!» Jeffrey told Hudson Valley News Network about his most recent tattoo. «A dog that I got 19 years ago, I can’t even talk about her.»

After the emotional start to the interview, Jeffrey eventually gained his composure and told the story about how he first stumbled upon Bisou, who he previously revealed (on The Bonnie Hunt Show) was named because she used to «kiss her way around» the bottle when he first fed her. Bisou means «kiss» in French, which again is adorable.

«I rescued her on the Venice boardwalk,» he told Hudson Valley News Network. «Some kids were selling three litters of puppies and I dug through the box and there was one, that, she was maybe four inches long, and I was like, I want to take that one that’s not going to make it through the day. I bottle-fed her for about a month . . . two days after she passed I had her name tattooed on my arm. But oh, my god I miss her, I miss her so much.»

Come on, if this isn’t the sweetest story to come from such a tough-looking guy, we don’t know what is. Amongst Jeffrey’s other nine tattoos is a gun on his inner forearm in honor of his favorite prop in The Salvation. He also has a tattoo on his knuckles with his son Augustus’s (with wife Hilarie Burton) nickname, «Gusy,» on four fingers, because he is so sweet — tough, but sweet.

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Behind the Exhibit: Jason Rhoades at the Brant Foundation

Twice a year, the by-appointment-only Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut unveils a new exhibit sourced from magazine magnate Peter Brant’s sprawling contemporary art collection. This Sunday marks the foundation’s latest unveiling: a retrospective of the late sculptor Jason Rhoades, who, before his death in 2006 at 41, was known for creating bombastic, socially conscious installations with an irreverent, Rube Goldberg-esque potpourri of media, from car parts to dried food.

The Brant’s openings are known for attracting a colorful crowd of art world and fashion heavyweights, and with Rhoades’s surreal works on display, this biannual tradition’s gonzo tea party-like atmosphere is sure to be even more heightened. Highlights include My Madinah: in pursuit of my ermitage, which examines the media’s reaction to 9/11 with neon “vagina” signs suspended over religious symbols, and My Brother/Brancuzi, a commission for the 1995 Whitney Biennial.

The Grand Machine / THEAREOLA (2002)

Comprised of spare tires, car engines, and donuts mounted on makeshift pedestals, My Brother/Brancuzi combines themes from Rhoades’s childhood and later modernist influences. “Jason’s brother Matt thought up the idea of a donut machine when he was nine years old and was selling donuts at a local fair,” the foundation’s director and Peter’s daughter Allison Brant tells us. “The machine no longer produces donuts but when the work was first created and shown for the Whitney Biennial in 1995 it was fully functioning.”

Another large-scale apparatus, The Grand Machine/THEAREOLA, features an epoxy made from green peas, salmon eggs and white foam known as “PeaRoeFoam,” which Rhoades once packaged and marketed in art galleries. Adorned with a pink neon sign reading “The Areola,” the installation represents Rhoades’s corporeal yet allegorical artistic practice.

My Madinah: In pursuit of my ermitage… (2004)

While the foundation is known for juxtaposing cheeky art with its Rockwellian facilities (once inserting Dan Colen’s junkyard trucks nose-first into its manicured lawns), Brant says the Rhoades show was a unique beast. “The dynamic between the space and the work definitely played a significant role in the selection of works and curation of this exhibition,” says Brant. “Every exhibition is different from the next, which is one of the most wonderful things about my position and our space.”

My Brother/Brancuzi (1995)

Main image: One-Wheel Wagon-Wheel Chandelier (Crotch Mackerel, Peach, Slot Pocket, The Shrine) (2004)

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Meet the Actor Behind Riverdale’s Most Hated Character Yet

We never thought we would hate a Riverdale character more than Miss Grundy, but here we are. On Wednesday night’s episode, we were introduced to Veronica’s privileged and snobby ex-flame Nick St. Clair, played by Graham Phillips. Spoiler: he is actually the worst. Aside from trying to steal Veronica away from Archie, things take an extremely dark turn when he tries to sexually assault Cheryl Blossom after slipping a drug into her drink.

Thankfully, Veronica and the Pussycats arrive just in time to save Cheryl and proceed to punch Nick in the face and beat him to a pulp. Yes, really. While it seems like his arc may be short-lived on the show (Betty gives his name to the Black Hood as his next victim), this certainly isn’t the first time the actor has popped up on our screen.

If you were a fan of The Good Wife during its seven-season run, then you probably recognize him for playing the far less-hated role of Alicia and Peter Florrick’s son, Zach. Aside from his starring role on the CBS drama, Phillips also had small roles on Secrets and Lies, Guidance, and the Netflix original film XOXO with Sarah Hyland. While we will have to wait until next week to see if he lives, if we know anything about the network, he’s bound to pop up in another CW series soon.

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The Face Behind The Brand: Life As A Social Media Intern

Every now and then, amidst the countless hours I spend on the addictive cesspool that is Twitter, I encounter a tweet that’s gone viral or I accidentally click on the Moments tab and hear of such an incident (I refuse to believe anyone has purposefully clicked on that Moments tab, it’s just not done). Going viral is a skillful accident that I’ve experienced a number of times under my own name, and it comes with a unique kind of surreal feeling that’s tough to describe: It’s a microcosm of fame and acclaim that makes you feel hyper-exposed on a platform that already breeds a discomfiting level of familiarity with the unknown. It’s also extremely difficult to engineer, with obviously tailored tweets feeling awkward and strained in a manner that inspires memories of Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock saying ‘How do you do, fellow kids?’ True hype is organic, and viral fame comes with a combination of wit, timing and sheer dumb luck. You could spend hours trying to pull it off and get nowhere. Believe me, I know.

Before I entered the realm of online journalism and became the fiery pop culture hot takes merchant you read today, I worked for two years at a company that specialized in online and social media based marketing of towns and small businesses. I’d been unemployed for the entirety of the previous year, during which time I had fine-tuned my Twitter abilities to a level of prowess that bordered the intersections of cultural commentator, online diarist, media critic and bad beat poet. When you’re broke and alone and utterly bereft of opportunities, you turn to the places where you know gratification is instant, and since LiveJournal was in the middle of a prolonged death, Twitter was my cruel ally. It only made sense that the site would become the shovel with which I could dig myself out of that hole and back into the real world.

My job was to man the fort of various Twitter and Facebook accounts, wherein we would promote small businesses in an array of locations and promote our own apps that would show the user a detailed map of their area for their consumer needs. What started as a three month part-time internship became my full-time job, one I heartily enjoyed until the redundancy notice was served two years later. As you can imagine, I quickly returned to Twitter to air my emotions on that subject.

When you’re working in social media, a field of business that’s still very new but rapidly growing, you spend a lot of time explaining to other people exactly what it is you do for a living, and you quickly find that such a task is more difficult than imagined. I know what I did for a job 4 days a week and on occasional evenings and weekends, but parsing it down to ‘I tweeted’ felt reductive. I could always hear the formation of a Daily Mail think-piece on the lazy evils of millennials every time I started the spiel once more. People are quick to tell you that you don’t have a real job, or that any stupid kid could do what you do, even though most of those doubters would run away in fear if asked to schedule 4 weeks of social media content in one afternoon.

Social media is all about the personality. Go onto my Twitter page and I’m reasonably sure you can get a detailed insight into what kind of person I am within 25 tweets. For people like me who owe a lot to the site, as messy and emotionally agonizing as it can be, we pour a lot of ourselves into our online presence. These days, I’m always aware of how a random tweet I knock out about this year’s Oscars or a bite-sized review of a TV episode I watched could be spotted by an editor with potential work in the pipeline. Your personality becomes your brand, and yes, I am aware of how incredibly depressing that is.

It’s different when you’re the voice behind a different face. Nowadays, even the most mundane brand or company has a Twitter account, and the pressure is on to make an impact in an over-saturated field where everyone is fighting for one like. For me, I often found it oddly dreamlike to pretend to be a brand: You have to tread an increasingly fine line between marketing, friendship, hot takes and customer service. It requires a personality utterly free of the traits of one; a kind of breathless enthusiasm with no real opinions to its name. you become incredibly aware of how something seemingly mundane could be misinterpreted or taken out of context, like posting a news story about a development from the local council. If the story is negative about the political party in charge of the council, you easily could find yourself barraged by supporters of that party chastising you for your perceived bias, or become the canvas for others to post their political grievances in either direction.

Try sharing an update from the local food-bank and it won’t take long for political skirmishes to break out in your mentions (true story: This happened once and that area’s local MP, who was kind of a disgraced figure, got involved and all I could do was watch the carnage unfold. Any response or action on my end would have just added to the mess). Do something as simple as tweet your enjoyment of a TV show and people will have no qualms about letting all their feelings hang out, which are seldom positive. That doesn’t even cover the chaos if you get a fact about a place you’re covering wrong.

Some social media gurus have turned the occupation into an art form, imbued with charm and a distinctly idiosyncratic approach that’s essentially the opposite of everything I was taught. Denny’s have a Twitter account that’s so effectively strange and funny that places like Forbes and Buzzfeed dedicate regular column inches to it. It’s become a regular occurrence for us to see a tweet from a well-known brand that makes even the most hardened cynic laugh and click to retweet. The pressure is always on to beat the last tweet that went viral, and that’s impossible to replicate. What worked on Monday probably won’t on the Friday.

That rush to get your weekly numbers up, as I did for my job, is exhausting, and I was doing it on the low-end of exposure. Think of the social media people just trying to do their jobs who end up in battles on behalf of their brand, and the people who angrily tweet at you thinking you’re responsible for every evil linked to the name you work under. Twitter’s an easy platform to dehumanise people on, but that’s made all the easier when you’re working under a logo and not a name. Most of the people sneering at or dismissing you don’t know how many hours you’re working a day or how tough it can be to meet the weekly targets, or how petty you get when a colleague does a better job on a tweet and you spend way too long thinking about how your 140 characters were better than theirs. They don’t take into account the growing fear of going viral in the wrong way or the constant dread of that person insulting you finding out you’re a woman so they can add gendered slurs to their roster of hate. Anyone can tweet, but making it your job is a feat that never gets its due.

I miss a lot about that job. I liked the work and my colleagues and being 5 minutes from a top-notch sandwich place, but I can’t say I’ve a desire to return to it. Watching fast food brands fight it out for the top shade has its charms, but as someone who knows exactly how much work went into that, it mostly leaves me feeling exhausted.

But obviously, you should all follow me on Twitter now.

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American Horror Story: The Facts Behind Sharon Tate’s Brutal Murder

Image Source: FX Networks

For the past few weeks, American Horror Story: Cult has been spotlighting famous cults and their leaders. In the latest episode, «Charles (Manson) in Charge,» the show takes on arguably the most disturbing incident in cult history with what would become known as «the Tate murders.» On Aug. 8, 1969, five people and an unborn baby were killed at a Los Angeles residence, courtesy of Charles Manson’s followers. Among the dead was eight-months-pregnant actress Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski. The infamous director was out of the country filming The Day of the Dolphin at the time.

By all accounts, the AHS version of these events stays very true to the real-life events, though thankfully a lot of the violence happens off screen — because the real murders were excessively brutal and violent. But, yes, a friend of Tate’s who was leaving the house was killed by Charles «Tex» Watson (played here by Billy Eichner) via gunshot; Abigail Folger was stabbed to death (over two-dozen times) by Patricia Krenwinkel (played here by Naomi Grossman); and Jay Sebring and Voytek Frykowski were stabbed dozens of times and shot by Watson. Accounts differ when it comes to Tate.

Depending on whose confession you read, either Watson or Susan Atkins (played here by Sarah Paulson) or both killed Tate by stabbing her 16 times. Atkins was the one who initially confessed to it, bragging about the crimes to her cellmates at the Sybil Brand Institute when she was held there for other crimes, according to the Los Angeles Times. Later, she changed her story in front of the grand jury to say that it was actually Watson who killed Tate; in Watson’s autobiography, he also takes credit for Tate’s murder, despite having blamed it on Atkins during his trial.

American Horror Story: Cult chooses to leave Tate’s murder solely in the hands of Atkins, probably because it comes across as much more upsetting to watch Paulson, a gifted actress, let her crazy out and start stabbing a crying pregnant woman who is begging for her life and the life of her unborn child. But again, thankfully, a lot of the violence is off screen.

Here’s the real Sharon Tate, in 1966’s Eye of the Devil, just three years before her death:

Image Source: Everett Collection

On AHS, the Tate murders are the only Manson family crimes the show really digs into, but they actually fell right in the middle of Manson’s murder spree in the Summer of 1969. Others killed include Bernard Crowe, Gary Hinman, and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Arrests for other crimes began in October of that year, with arrests for the murders coming down in December. The trial began in 1970, with Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten all getting death sentences that were later commuted to life in prison. Watson was convicted at a separate trial after going on a hunger strike and needing to be hospitalized for a time; his conviction came down in 1971. All of them are still in prison except Atkins, who died of brain cancer while in prison in 2009.

Linda Kasabian (played here by Billie Lourd) was the only participant who was not put in jail; since she never actually committed any of the murders, she was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony against the others.

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Alias Grace: The True Story Behind Grace Marks’s Murder Trial

Netflix dropped a new drama in early November titled Alias Grace, based on the 1996 novel by Margaret Atwood, who also wrote The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood’s Alias Grace novel is based on real-life events that took place in Canada in the 1840s, but just how much of the miniseries is true, and how much has been invented or embellished for the sake of the story? Read on to find out, but be warned of spoilers for the Netflix series.

On the show (as in the novel), 33-year-old Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) is in prison for the double murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper and lover, Nancy. At the time of the murders, Grace works as a maid for Kinnear, and her alleged accomplice in the crimes, James McDermott, is the estate’s stable boy. The framing device for Grace’s tale is that Dr. Simon Jordan, an alienist (the old-fashioned term for psychologist), wants to interview her to see if he can figure out if she’s truly guilty of the crimes or merely a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These interviews allow readers/viewers a window into Grace’s entire life. She basically starts at the beginning of her «adulthood,» which is when her family emigrates from Ireland to Canada. Grace is only 12 at the time, but her mother dies not long into the journey, leaving Grace (as the eldest child) to care for her younger siblings. Upon reaching Canada, her drunken, abusive father turns Grace out with instructions to find a job and send money back.

While Dr. Jordan is a fictional character invented by Atwood as a way into Grace’s story, the tale she tells him is more or less true to life, at least the parts about her early life. Things diverge when Grace is first employed at the Parkinson household, which is where Grace meets her close friend Mary Whitney, a fellow maid.

Mary is a fictional character created by Atwood. Grace meets her at the Parkinson estate, though Marks may not have actually worked at another estate before coming to Mr. Kinnear’s household — research sources about Marks are unclear on that point.

On the show, Grace and Mary grow close — so close that when Mary gets pregnant from her affair with their boss’s son, Grace pays for her abortion. The botched abortion kills Mary that night, and Atwood’s book (and the show) would have you believe Mary’s spirit inhabits Grace’s body and that’s what causes her to act in the double murders. There are some other wild theories along those lines, such as Grace suffering from dissociative identity disorder (also known as multiple personality disorder) or that Grace is the one who actually died and Mary took over her identity. But no one knows for sure.

Part of the reason the character of Mary is an easy person to blame for the murders is because she was heavily in favor of rebellion on the part of the Canadian farmers and working class, and Kinnear was one of the people who worked to stop their uprising, which happened a few years prior to the events of the show/book. So Mary murdering him due to her political beliefs makes for a better motive than Grace, who is uncomfortable in the household, dealing with Nancy’s jealousy of her, but who doesn’t seem to have a strong motive for murder.

In real life, Marks and McDermott never claimed innocence of the murders, but they did lay the blame for the actual crimes at each other’s feet. Each said that the other was the one who wanted to kill Kinnear and Nancy and then actually went through with it, with the unwitting accomplice claiming only to have helped clean it up after the fact. The show does present both sides by way of having Dr. Jordan read McDermott’s confession to Grace, but the series definitely leans to the side of Grace as the unwitting accomplice.

No one can ever truly know if the murders were committed by Marks, McDermott, or both, but the two of them did go on the run after the murders. They were eventually apprehended in New York and put on trial back in Canada. McDermott was found guilty of murder, and Marks was charged as an accessory. They were both sentenced to death, but Marks’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, probably due to her young age. McDermott was promptly hanged, and Marks was sent to an asylum and then a penitentiary, where she resided for nearly 30 years.

During her time in jail, Marks was a model prisoner and was pardoned in her mid-40s. She left Canada and moved to northern New York, when all records of her cease to exist. She essentially vanished at that point. But according to a Smithsonian magazine article about the mystery, Marks always maintained she was not a murderer, blaming her incarceration on «having been employed in the same house with a villain,» meaning McDermott.

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Behind the Exhibit: Hotbed

It was in 1917 that 19th century pioneers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony energized the female spirit and motivated the modern suffrage movement in New York State. Women battled for labor reform, birth control and racial justice before succeeding and gaining the right to vote in New York State.

In celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage, the New York Historical Society Museum & Library presents the Hotbed exhibition. From November 3, 2017 – March 25, 2018 in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, Hotbed will offer an inside look at New York City’s Greenwich Village during the 20th century. With immersive installations and more than 100 artifacts and images on display, visitors will be able to see first-hand the vibrant artistic and political culture of the Village during this time.

The female bohemian artists and writers pursuing freedoms well beyond the vote transformed the image of suffragettes into something new and glamorous. Women had joined forces across all different backgrounds, ethnicities and class to crusade for women’s rights. From controlling their own bodies to the right to vote, women were marching through the Village as a united front.

Hotbed offers posters, magazines and broadsides documenting the peaceful marches and creative stunts and performances used to draw attention to women’s issues. The exhibition is curated by Joanna Scutts, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s History, and Sarah Gordon, Senior Postdoctoral Marie Zimmermann Legacy Fellow in Women’s History, under the direction of Valerie Paley, vice president, chief historian, and director of the Center for Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society, and is on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery.

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American Horror Story: The Tragic Story Behind Marshall Applewhite and Heaven’s Gate

Image Source: FX Networks

American Horror Story: Cult really lives up to its subtitle with the latest episode, «Drink the Kool-Aid.» Sure, Kai Anderson has had all the markings of a cult leader up to this point, but in Tuesday’s episode it all comes to a head, as the FX drama kicks off the hour with short features on some of the world’s most infamous cult leaders: David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Marshall Applewhite.

In the episode, AHS: Cult takes time to use both real footage and also staged reenactments of all these cults, with Evan Peters showing off some serious mimicry chops as the various cult leaders (and the makeup artists earning their paychecks turning Peters into these notorious men).

Despite Applewhite being the most current cult leader in the timeline, it seems that his name is not as well-known as Koresh or Jones, so here’s a little background on Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate cult.

Image Source: Getty / Bettmann

In the early 1970s, Applewhite met Bonnie Nettles, who would go on to found Heaven’s Gate with him. She fostered his belief that he was a prophet with a divine mission. They wrote out their belief that Jesus had been reincarnated into Applewhite and that they were the two witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They eventually moved to wanting to contact extraterrestrials, which is how they began to gain followers.

Their group began traveling the country to recruit new members, living as beggars and proselytizing the divinity of «The UFO Two,» aka Applewhite and Nettles. When Nettles died in 1985, Applewhite took over sole leadership of the cult, making it more reclusive and becoming convinced that the Hale-Bopp Comet contained the secret to their ascendance into heaven.

In 1997, Applewhite left video messages proclaiming that his people needed to leave Earth in order to ascend to the next level of existence, and they were going to do so by boarding a spacecraft that was hiding in the tail of the Hale-Bopp Comet. To make that happen, they had to leave their Earthly bodies, and so on March 26, 1997, 38 cult members plus Applewhite committed suicide by eating applesauce laced with high amounts of phenobarbital. They also asphyxiated themselves by placing plastic bags around their heads.

In an odd coincidence, the brother of original Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, Thomas Nichols, was among the dead. As shown on AHS: Cult, the members wore patches on their arms that read «Heaven’s Gate Away Team,» which is a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation — it’s what they called their boarding parties.

On AHS: Cult, Kai has become a freaky hybrid of each of these three cult leaders. He talks about ascending to a higher plane while asking his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid (which turns out not to be poisoned), and he also believes he has spiritual sperm. Half the reason Ally is able to convince Kai to trust her is because she acts like she buys into the idea that he is Oz’s sperm donor father and together the two of them have created a «messiah baby.»

Ally’s masterful game will surely be all the sweeter when Kai realizes he’s been played so hard, though we’ll probably have to wait two weeks for that. Next week is the Charles Manson episode before Cult’s season finale on Nov. 14.

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The Chilling Story Behind the Winchester Mystery House and the Woman Who Built It

Image Source: CBS Films

The story of Sarah Winchester and the Winchester Mystery House is bizarre, intriguing, and spooky as hell. Though it’s been a fairly well-known tale for some time, it’s attracted more attention due to the upcoming thriller Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built, starring Helen Mirren as the titular character. So, what do you need to know about the eerie history surrounding the infamous real-life home?

Sarah Lockwood Pardee was born in New Haven, CT, around 1839. In her early 20s, she married Oliver Winchester of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Several years later, Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Annie. Tragically, Annie died just a month later from marasmus, or severe malnutrition. From that point on, Sarah’s luck only worsened. In the early 1880s, her father-in-law passed away, and then her husband succumbed to tuberculosis a year later. Though she received an inheritance of $ 20 million — as well as partial ownership of the family’s firearms company — she never remarried and was alone for the rest of the her life.

If she stopped adding to her property, Sarah would meet her untimely death.

Then, things got weird. For some reason, Sarah got in touch with a medium. Legend has it that Sarah started to feel as though she was being haunted, but it’s more likely that she spoke to the medium in an attempt to communicate with her late husband. The medium allegedly told Sarah that her family was cursed by all of those who had been killed by Winchester guns. Inexplicably, she recommended that Sarah move out west, build a home, and continue working on that home basically forever to appease the spirits. If she stopped adding to her property, Sarah would meet her untimely death.

Image Source: Getty / Bettmann

Given the supernatural element to this origin story, it’s been debated by historians and biographers. However, around 1886, Sarah did end up moving to San Jose, CA, where she bought an unfinished eight-room farmhouse. Sarah promptly began construction, and from that point on, she did not stop expanding and adding to the home. There were windows where there didn’t need to be, staircases leading nowhere, and an unusual amount of fireplaces. The house ended up having somewhere around 160 rooms. Sarah had pretty much become an obsessive HGTV host.

Image Source: Getty / Bettmann

When an earthquake hit in 1906, Sarah reportedly got trapped in a room for several hours and felt as though she was being punished once again by the Winchester curse. Thoroughly freaked out, Sarah stopped construction on the house, boarded it up, and began living full-time in her other two properties. Her sudden departure can also explain why the architecture of the house is so strange — it’s technically unfinished.

In 1922, Sarah died of heart failure at 83. Now, the Winchester Mystery House is a National Historic Landmark and visitors are able to explore the house through guided tours. If you’re especially brave, you can also take a candlelight tour during the month of October. Winchester will hit theaters on Feb. 23, 2018.

Image Source: Getty / C Flanigan

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