Homes as Museums: Hearst Castle

Homes as Museums: Hearst Castle

Micki Howl
Sep 30, 2010

In 1919 when newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst inherited 250,00 acres of land from his parents, and decided to spruce up the old family campgrounds, he unknowingly began the creation of one of the worlds greatest works of art. Architect Julia Morgan was hired to take on Hearst's creative vision and facilitate the construction of the Castle…

…Hearst was a very particular client and demanded several parts of the Castle to be rebuilt multiple times in order to suit his wants and desires. As a result, the Castle was never finished before Hearst's death in 1951. Hearst had a voracious appetite for European and Mediterranean art and during his lifetime constantly added to a collection that (at the time) accounted for 25%of the world's art market. These assets were eventually broken up over the years as he neared bankruptcy. Some pieces were seized by his company, and others were donated to the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

Casa Grande or, the main house, was modeled after a Spanish Cathedral and boasts 165 rooms. The two Guest Houses hosted some of the worlds most famous politicians, figureheads and movie stars. During that time, it was noted that Hearst refused to serve Winston Churchill his afternoon tea because it was not the custom in America. Today, some of that magic from the 1930's still remains trapped inside the Castle. Walking the grounds completely transports you into a different time and place. It's almost jarring how the architectural elements your senses absorb clash with the California mindset you had moments before on Highway 1. Spending time on the property is almost as good as a mini European vacation. Skip the tourist stops at the bottom of the hill and spend as much time as you can soaking in the sun next to the Neptune Pool.

1. The facade of Casa Grande is a Mediterranean Revival building made to represent a Spanish Cathedral.
2. The Neptune Pool consists of an ancient Roman temple that was imported to California after Hearst purchased it from the Italian government. This space was rebuilt three times to satisfy Hearst's vision.
3. The banquet room where Hearst entertained many famous guests. Hearst would kindly let guests know when they had overstayed their welcome by seating them at the end of the table, farthest from his seat.
4. View of the smoking/living room featuring Spanish antiques.
5. Detailed photo of a bay window outside Casa Grande.
6. Western view from one of the many outdoor Veranda's.
7. Roman statue outside the entrance to one of the Guest Houses.
8. The famous "Roman Pool" built entirely of 1 inch mosaic tiles (from Italy of course!).
9. Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst.
10. William Randolph Hearst.

Visit or learn more about Hearst Castle.

Images: 1,2,7,8: Morgue File 3-6, 9, 10: Wikimedia Commons

Escapes: Hearst Castle Roman Pool
Pool Hopping in Style

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