Hearst's Castle, San Simeon, California

William Randolph Hearst spent his early years camping with his family at the site where his Castle was eventually erected. In 1919, the year of his mother's death, Hearst cabled famed architect, Julia Morgan, “Miss Morgan, we are tired of camping out in the open at the ranch in San Simeon and I would like to build a little something.” The estate included a main house, “Casa Grande, ” three bungalows, with a total of 165 rooms, as well as 127 acres of gardens, pathways and a private zoo. The estate took on a Spanish-Revival and Mediterranean flair.

Each room was adorned with art treasures from around the world including antique ceilings, Greek vases dating from 700 B.C., rare oriental carpets, medieval tapestries and marble statues. Much of the collection originated from cathedrals and historic sites in Spain and Italy. In all its grandeur, Hearst still thought of the place as his country home, “for at the dinner table paper napkins were always used, and a bottle of Heinz Catsup was placed beside each place setting.” The project was never completed, yet the collaboration between Hearst and Morgan lasted 28 years. In 1947 Hearst suffered a heart attack and left San Simeon for the final time. In 1957 Hearst Castle and the surrounding 250,000 acres were donated to the California parks administration, whose jurisdiction it remains under to this day.

Images from the Archive The archive contains architectural renderings of an unidentified Italian villa and its “Istrian Balcony” which was purchased by Hearst through Howard Studios in New York. The sales transaction took place on January 19, 1922, and the balcony was shipped to San Luis Obispo, California, for transport to San Simeon on February 16th of the same year. The balcony is now installed at San Simeon in Doge's suite in the main building. It also contains a commissioned work by the artist Charles Cassou of the Birth of Venus which is now installed at San Simeon in the Neptune Pool alcove.

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