The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Winchester Mystery House Historian Hails from Santa Clara

“I first saw the place when I was three or four years old, and I looked out the window of the car, and I just fell in love with it,” said Winchester Mystery House Historian Janan Boehme. “That’s how I first saw it and fell in love with the house is driving from Santa Clara into San Jose to my grandma’s house every Saturday night. I’d love to go by this big spooky house and see it and just grew up and fell in love with it.”

Little did young Boehme know how that Victorian home would become deeply intertwined with her life. Boehme is the first historian to serve at the Winchester Mystery House but it’s not the first role she’s ever held at the home.

“I’ve hung around here, off and on for 45 years,” said Boehme. “I was a tour guide back in the 70s. And then I left and I came back and I ran the cafe. And then I left and I came back and I ran the tour department and I finally became the first historian here.”


Boehme still lives in the home she grew up in in Santa Clara. She attended nearby Haman Elementary School and Santa Clara High before moving on to Santa Clara University for her undergraduate degree.

“It’s kind of funny, my mom as a little girl, used to go to the University and read her books in the garden and she used to tell me a story where she met a priest there in the garden,” recalled Boehme. “He asked her what she was doing, and she told him that one day, she was going to go to this school. And he said, ‘Oh, dear, I’m sorry, you can’t go here. This is only for boys.’ Which of course, just was totally distressful for her. And she was really sad. So, I felt like when I grew up and I was actually able to go there. I felt like it was kind of a victory for both of us. And she was very excited.”

Throughout her time in Santa Clara, Boehme found her way to the Winchester House. Even after she left town to attend graduate school in Monterey, something pulled her back.

“It was weird, I kept coming back here. I would go off and I would go to school and then I would come back here,” said Boehme with a laugh. “Then I would go off and go Europe and live there and then I’d come back here.

“Then I went away for like 20 years. I was a financial writer and editor. We had that 2008. The economy went to hell and my company cut down by about 20%,” recalled Boehme. “They eliminated 20% of the positions, and mine was one of them. So, I took care of my mom for a few years, she was dying. And in 2012, I came back here. I’ve been here ever since.”

About seven years ago, the historian role was created and Boehme was the prime candidate for the job.

“This is like my perfect job. I had to wait a very long time for it, but yeah, so I’m the very first one [historian],” said Boehme, who believes her uncanny connection to the home has helped in her current role. “Not only do I know a lot about the history of the house, but I mean, I’ve been hanging around for 45 years. So, I personally remember what it was like in the late 70s here and have seen kind of how it’s changed over the last several decades, which is really helpful.”

While Boehme can tell you almost anything about Sarah Winchester and the home, what she cannot do is pinpoint why she feels a constant draw to the home.

“The house was what first drew me. And then I learned her story, which made it even more fascinating. The more you learn about her, I think the more interesting it is,” said Boehme. “I’ve always felt at home here. I sometimes wonder if I was, you know, around here before…or, maybe I’ll stick around here after I’ve died and come back and haunt the places as well. Hard to say.”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


You may like