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Houdini > Winchester Mystery Door

More Tight Places:
Outside wall with a doorway  on the second floor; crane required to open door.....

California got an early start on its reputation for being home of the nutcase when the widow of famed gunmaker William Winchester started listening to voices in her head that told her she would die on the day her mansion was completed.

She launched her workmen into a frenzy of construction that resulted in a house with stairways and doorways to nowhere that still exists as a landmark and tourist attraction in San Jose. Naturally, it didn't save her; she still died.

Less famous -- or weird -- is this quaint apartment office in Santa Cruz, still in California though, with a doorway that results in a long first step.

The explanation is almost as strange as Mrs. Winchester's: when the place was built, somebody designed a water heater into the attic -- a 100-gallon, 75,000-Btu tank that's about a foot wider than the only access, a folding ceiling ladder. Besides which, the tank weighs about 800 pounds. WHAT were they thinking of?

Some forgotten hero of water heater maintenance changed the sacrificial anode rod at least once some years after the tank's installation, finding the factory anode hidden beneath the sheetmetal cover and cutting an access hole, and we've also monitored and replaced it since, but when they were working on the building, management decided to cover their bet by installing a new means of access as well.

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