Following his mother’s death in 1919, media magnate William Randolph Hearst inherited thousands of acres around San Simeon and later on purchased even more, until the land he owned extended further than the eye could see. Captivated by the beauty of the landscape, and probably tired of lodging in platform tents whenever he visited his ranch, Hearst hired architect Julia Morgan and asked her to build ”something that would be more comfortable” than the tents.
Throughout his life, Hearst dreamed of building a castle similar to those he had seen on his European tour as a boy. 28 years, 68,500 square feet, 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces, 42 bathrooms and 14 sitting rooms later (and that is only Casa Grande, the main building of the complex), his dream came true. He called his castle La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill” and, after a two-hour tour of the Grand Rooms, guest suites, gardens and the spectacular Roman Pool, I can affirm that this mythical structure of epic proportions is definitely ”something more comfortable” than Mr. Hearst’s tents.
During construction, Hearst used the Castle as his residence and it was there he exhibited his extraordinary art collection and entertained his friends. The elite of Hollywood, politics and sports – everyone who was anyone, has stayed in these rooms. Construction was still ongoing in 1947, when Hearst had to leave the castle because of his fragile health which required continuous medical care. Parts of the castle still remain unfinished.
If you enjoyed this virtual walk of the gardens, wait till we go indoors; coming up, views from the Grand Rooms and guest suites.
July 12th, 2017