Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle was, to sum it up in a word, impossible. Gigantic and not gigantic, an actual castle, but reminded me more of a small Mediterranean village with a cathedral at its center. Okay, I think I failed to describe all its greatness, but that was a pretty good, if not a very vague overview of the castle.

In 1850, at thirty years of age, George Hearst, William Randolph Hearst father, “the boy who earth talks to,” moved to California during the Gold Rush. There he bought a claim that everyone said only had lead, but George believed that there was something. He wasn’t exactly sure what. The problem was that he couldn’t prove the substance was valuable, unless he crossed the treacherous Sierra Nevadaswith the ore to get it smelted. He and two of his buddies crossed the mountains, walking and on horseback, with 38 tons of ore. They made it across the mountains and got the ore smelted. When the results came out, the people were wrong in wasn’t lead. It was silver. They got 56,000 dollars in todays money for every 1 ton of ore they brought over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. George went back and continued to mine. He invested in successful gold, silver, and copper mines. George quickly became a millionaire.

In 1865, he acquired 48,000 acres of land in San Simeon and built a pier in the harbor he lived on this ranch. He married, back in his home state of Missouri, and had only one child, William Randolph Hearst. William Randolph, also known as W.R., and his mother Phoebe Apperson Hearst, went on a one and a half year grand tour of Europe. William Randolph was ten at the time, and that’s when his love art developed.

In 1919, William Randolph’s mother died. His father had died many years earlier. W. R., who already had built a media empire, inherited his father’s land and wealth. At 56, he decided to put a house on top of a hill where he went camping as a kid. W.R. first stated to his architect, Julia Morgan, “I just want a little something.” Julia Morgan was the first woman architect in California. The project spanned over 30 years, only stopping during WWII, when William Randolph went into $100,000,000 of debt. After WWII, his newspapers started selling and the project continued. It was lived in from just a few years after construction started.  It was never finished at the time of his death in 1951.

Hearst Castle is 68,000 square feet, which isn’t even half of the Biltmore Estate (the number one place I want to go in the US.). There is one main house and 3 cottages on the hill. The Casa Grande, which is made to look like a cathedral, is the main house, and the Casa de Sol, Casa del Mar and the Casa del Monte are the cottages. They are named after their views; Sunset, Ocean and Mountains, respectively. These are made to look like the village “huts”. We took three amazing tours and saw most of the house that was open to the public. I’d give you a detailed account of different trips around the house but I can’t for two reasons. A) I could not go anywhere near the grander of the house. B) I got lost (quite an amazing feat, if I may say so) and all the amazing, magnificent, wonderful rooms got mixed up in my head. The tours I would suggest are the Upstairs suite and the Designing the Dream. The Grand Rooms tour was spectacular, but crowded. It brought you through the downstairs of the house showing all the grand rooms (hence the name) of the house. If you’ve toured Mansions before then this one will look very similar. I would also defiantly watch the movie that comes with your tour. All around, if you’re in the area, then I would strongly suggest going.


Note by Cali:

The Castle was, well…extra amazing with incredible twists. The architecture was surprising. Back in that day, barely any female architects existed. During her life Julia Morgan completed 700 homes/offices/castles in California, all the time competing with the male architects of her time.

Also I wanted to mention W.R. Hearst’s family. He had 5 children, all sons, and the last 2 were twins. Most of them went on to be successful.

All of Hearst’s staff (never to be confused with servants), had an extraordinary privileges. Of course, he only hired the best of the best, but if you worked for him you could expect a very high wage, to keep to from looking at other jobs. Another perk of being in his staff was, if the guests weren’t enjoying the pool, you could swim. Also, if Chief, as Mr. Hearst was known to his staff, was showing, you could go see it in Chiefs personal Movie Theater. At Christmas time, you could choose any gift from around the tree that  you wanted. Want to work for Mr. Hearst now? Yeah, so do I.



One Reply to “Hearst Castle”

  1. Hi Cali & Marcus,
    I’m so enjoying your posts about your travels. Seeing the photos and reading your descriptions of Hearst Castle brought back good memories of my visit there long before you were born!
    Went on a full moon hike in Usery Park in June. Unfortunately that day was an extremely hot one, and it was still 109 degrees at 8:00 PM. Made for an uncomfortable hike, but some of us were lucky enough to see a giant hairy desert scorpion. I thought of you, Marcus, and the scorpion hunt!
    I received your post card from San Francisco yesterday. Thank you for thinking of me, Cali. It brightens my day to get your notes. Enjoy your travel adventures!
    Love, Karen


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