A Castle in San Simeon California was built on Camp Hill that started as "building a little something" on a hill overlooking the ocean. This land was owned by the Hearst Family and William Randolph Hearst was most happy spending time camping here.
William contracted with an architect out of San Francisco named Julia Morgan and this began 28 years of construction. While traveling with his mom throughout Europe, he fell in love the looks of castles, and knew he wanted to live in one. William was 56 years old when he began this endeavor. It was 6 miles straight up a hill where he decided to start building, amongst rattlesnakes and tarantulas. There are 127 acres and was called La Cuesta Encantada - translated to The Enchanted Hill.
It began with building guesthouses - three total - Casa del Mar (House of the Sea) 5,350 sf with 8 bedrooms, Casa del Sol (House of the Sun) 3,620 sf with 8 bedrooms and Casa del Monte (House of the mountains) 2,550 sf with 4 bedrooms. Each cottage was named for its view on top of the hill. These cottages were constructed first and used to house guests and family. Hearst's family occupied Casa del Mar until 1928, at which time Casa Grande became their new home. All 3 cottages contain bedrooms, bathrooms and sitting rooms, none of the little houses have kitchens or dining areas, as guests were encouraged to go to the main house for their meals.
William found fine art and furniture along with ancient painted ceiling panels and huge marble fireplaces (41 in total), wood doors and golden chandeliers on his many travels to Europe. He enjoyed all his wonderful treasures in every room with Greek, Italian and Roman influence.
He then needed huge outdoor swimming pool which was Neptune Pool (which was named for the Roman God of the Sea) with a pool house that had 17 dressing rooms. This pool was constructed between 1924-1936, which was added on to throughout the years to give more room for his guests to enjoy. Today is is still the largest outdoor heated swimming pool in the world holding 345,000 gallons of water. This pool is currently going through restoration and will take one year to finish. There was also an indoor swimming pool resembling a Roman pool decorated with golden leaves. This pool is 81 feet long and 10 feet deep and holds 205,000 gallons of water. He built two tennis courts just outside the Roman pool.
Casa Grande is the grande house and has a Mediterranean style with architecture of Southern Spain. The design for the bell towers came from a cathedral in Ronda Spain. Casa Grande has approximately 68,500 square feet with 115 rooms - 38 bedrooms, a library, kitchen, billiards room and living quarters for the staff. There was a movie theater added that seats 50 people, and always had a pile of fur coats to keep everyone warm. The movie always played twice a night - one for his guests and one for the servants. The formal dining room seats 80 guests, and William always sat in the middle of the table. Today there is still ketchup and mustard on the table, as he always wanted everyone to know, it was still a ranch. He has a multitude of phones in every building for his guests to make calls anywhere in the world. In the early years, fireplaces were lit to keep the home warm, and later gas forced air furnaces were added.
William wanted his guests to enjoy visited his home, and started accumulating zoo pets. He had zebras, giraffes, yaks, camels, goats, bears, and today on the tours you still may see sheep. On the tour today, you will see some existing enclosures that were for the bears.
In the day, he would invite many from the entertainment industry, political leaders or art experts. One thing he would not put up with - over indulgence of alcohol.
As William reached the age of 84 in 1947, he was wearing down, and decided to stop adding on to the castle, and never was finished after this point. At the age of 88 William died in 1951, and left behind businesses worth more than $400 million. Six years after his death, the Hearst Corporation gave the castle to the State of California and now has 7 day a week tours. William's grandson George heads the Hearst Corporation today. Julia Morgan died in 1957 at the age of 85.
This was a destination of my last vacation, and completely enjoyed this tour and encourage others to include it in a vacation if you get close to San Simeon CA.
** posted for Photography challenage = Miscellaneous