Feb 21

Some Real Estate Attractions are Just Plain Weird

Especially when it’s been a particularly long or hard winter, real estate agents in the sunnier states count on getting an influx of inquiries. In California, that phenomenon usually gets a boost when TV starts broadcasting shots of sunny blue skies over the Rose Parade.

Perhaps in compensation, California is also the frequent object of Costa Mesa residents’ jokes about how nutty the state is—and there are some exceptional examples of real estate weirdness found only in California. These are real estate curiosities, so they aren’t transportable beyond the borders of the Golden State. Three come to mind:

First, there’s The Winchester House of Mystery. This San Jose tourist landmark was built by the heiress of the Winchester rifle fortune. Eschewing any professional architectural input, Ms. Winchester began remodeling an unfinished farmhouse in 1884—and continued adding rooms with no particular plan in mind until her passing, 38 years later.

Because of her determination to ward off malevolent spirits, the 160-room mansion has some unique touches designed to confuse otherworldly visitors. Among them are doors that open into solid walls, windows with views of other rooms, stairways with odd-sized risers that lead nowhere, and an abundance of stained glass windows, some with spider web motifs. At the time of Ms. W’s death, the majority of the six kitchens and 47 fireplaces were operational, but among the 13 bathrooms, only one had actual plumbing (to confuse the ghosts).

Down the road, just outside of Santa Cruz is The Mystery Spot, a chunk of real estate said to have been found in 1939 when the new owners of a large tract of land discovered a small canyon that made them feel “very light-headed or top heavy.” It also made their pocket compass behave in a way that was “not correct.” Within a half-century, so many visitors had taken a guided tour of the place that it’s been made an official California Historical Landmark—one where “puzzling variations of gravity, perspective, and height” are said to prevail.

A similar real estate attraction can be found at The Gravity House. Although an online video says that it is one of the “mysterious places with NO gravity,” Gravity House is not in outer space: it’s just off Highway 101 (on Confusion Hill). Gravity does definitely exist there, although it seems to misbehave. For just $5, entrants roam the ramshackle structure where floors and walls run every-which-way. As visitors progress from room to room, they are encouraged to decide for themselves why “people seem to grow or shrink” and how it is that water flows uphill. In some rooms, the challenge is trying not to fall into the walls.

The proprietors of Gravity House say that many theories have been advanced to account for the strangeness—including buried meteorites—but most scientists point out that anywhere you build a house where every surface is constructed at crazy angles, optical confusion will result. You may also tend to fall into the walls.

Our current Costa Mesa real estate listings aren’t comparably exotic, but they do have attributes you’ll find much more livable. To visit some outstanding examples, give me a call!

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