You know... this was not planned to be my next post, but even though we did not make it by Hearst Castle on this particular visit to California, one of the readers (Josie) did mention this castle on her comment about my "Getty Villa" post, so I thought... hey! Why not?
Any of you who have been to both of these places knows that there really is no way that much of anything could surpass the opulence of the Hearst Castle. Even if this picture doesn't show much (other than) the castle's outdoor pool, you will still get the idea of what this place has in store for its visitors. We have visited it several times over the years, and every-time there seems to be yet another part of it open to the public.
I can remember the first time we ever saw this place you could actually drive up to it and park there to see it. But those days have been gone for many years now. They are but a distant memory to those of us who were able to do it in those olden days. Of course in those days there was much less of the place that was open to visitors too.
Apparently as part of a tax deal with the State of California, different parts of the castle and its land were given to the state each year, so that the family's estate would get those tax benefits each year until the whole thing will eventually belong to the state.
The castle was actually named La Cuesta Encantada, "The Enchanted Hill" high above the ocean at San Simeon, was the creation of two extraordinary individuals, William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. Their collaboration, which began in 1919 and continued for nearly 30 years, transformed an informal hilltop campsite into the world-famous Hearst Castle -- a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 8 acres of cultivated gardens.
The main house itself, "La Casa Grande," is a grand setting for Hearst's collection of European antiques and art pieces. It was also a most fitting site for hosting the many influential guests who stayed at Hearst's San Simeon ranch. Guests included President Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, and a diverse array of luminaries from show business and publishing industries.
I can remember the first time that we saw the indoor pool, which is actually a little dark and in fact scary, but yet somehow still beautiful. It even has tiles etched in gold in it, but it is not really as pretty or even beckoning as is the outdoor pool. Of course, none of the visitors are allowed to go in either one of them, so it is sort of a mute point.
I also remember the first time the kitchen was added as a part of one of the tours. Mrs. LZ could not wait to see it. But when we saw it, it was more like touring a kitchen in a large hotel, than it was like a beautiful homey kitchen that she had expected. Much of the castle is like that, to say it is "over-done" and "over-stated" would be the biggest understatement I could think of.
Many people often ask... "Why is the building unfinished?" The answer is, that a combination of elements contributed to the unfinished state of the building: Mr. Hearst's penchant for simultaneous projects and constant modifications of projects underway; financial crisis and subsequent project shutdown; his absence from the Hilltop during WWII; and eventually his failing health and advanced age.
Another often asked question is, "How long did this home take to build?" They say that the initial plans for the castle were discussed in 1919. Mr. Hearst left San Simeon in 1947, and construction ceased that year, concluding a 28-year building span.
I think that anyone who gets even close to the central California coast north of San Louis Obispo, should have this as a "mandatory" visit. The only difference is that for the last 15 plus years, you have to plan ahead through an on-line ticketing agent for the several different tours that are available.
Again... as with all the photos on my posts, you can click on the photo for a larger view.“Try to be conspicuously accurate in everything, pictures as well as text. Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more interesting.”
~ William Randolph Hearst