History is everywhere and every village, town or city will have its own historical sites and buildings. You might have heard of these buildings but you probably won’t know the history behind them, sometimes things are just lost to history aren’t they?
Many of the most famous buildings in the world have a story behind them not known to the wider public, which is a shame because it can give you a deeper insight into the building’s historical significance. Many of them wouldn’t be with us today if it wasn’t for important historic building restoration so let’s take a look back in time and uncover the story behind two of my favourite historical buildings.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is now a world-famous landmark and pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when many people think of France. A symbol of romance and beauty, the Eiffel Tower is an incredibly popular building today but it wasn’t always like that.
The Eiffel Tower was built to act as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair and was going to be demolished after the fair was finished. But that’s not the unusual thing about the tower’s history, what many people don’t know and will probably find hard to believe is that many people downright hated the tower when it was first revealed.
It was described as “useless” and “monstrous” and artists actually protested against it, but the tower lived on although it wasn’t always the tourist attraction it is today. In fact, it was used for a much less glamorous purpose after the World Fair because it was used a radio antenna.
Restoration work has been carried out regularly at the Eiffel Tower and at this very moment work is being carried out to strengthen the tower by adding bulletproof glass walls to it. The Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building for over 40 years but few people realise just how close it came to never actually being built.
The Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House might not be a household name like the Eiffel Tower but it’s one of the strangest buildings in America and certainly as an odd story behind it. The mansion was the home of Sarah Winchester, she was the widow of William Winchester the man behind many of the most common American firearms.
The most well-known being the Winchester rifle, after her husband’s death Sarah began construction of the mansion in 1884 and it continued for years. Sarah didn’t hire an architect and would add rooms and alter plans on a whim. This usually meant builders and carpenters would work day and night as the mansion grew and grew.
The mansion grew to seven stories in height but was damaged in an earthquake in 1906 so only four stories stand today. Odd features like staircases to nowhere, doors that open to walls and other strange features are all commonplace.
Sarah believed that she was being haunted by the ghosts of people killed by her husband’s firearms and the only way to appease them and keep herself safe was to keep expanding her home. Reports vary but it’s believed by many that the construction of the house never fully stopped and some form of restoration work was always taking place until Sarah’s death in September 1922.
Historical and undoubtedly eerie the Winchester Mystery House is now one of San Jose’s most popular tourist attractions and new rooms are still being discovered. It’s a sad and haunting story but it does give us a greater insight into why the Winchester Mystery House is so unusual.
It’s certainly one of the strangest homes in America and I think in a decade or two more and more people will come to know about it.