We drove to Hearst Castle on June 11th. It is a very large place with 3 guest houses, the main house (60,645 sq ft) and a number of support buildings (all totaling 90,080 sq ft). There are two large swimming pools, one outdoor and one indoor. The buildings are surrounded by a number of gardens. The rooms and gardens contain an extensive collection of fine art and statuary.
The Castle is now a California State Park. Access begins at a new Visitor Center which is about 5 miles from the castle. Four different tours of various features are available. Transportation is provided by buses, no private vehicles are allowed. The visitor center has a large theater where a movie tells the history of the Hearst family and documents the construction of the Castle.
The Castle is located on 127 acres that was part of the Hearst Ranch which covered over 390 square miles. The ranch was accumulated through a series of land purchases in the late 1800s by William’s father with money from a silver mine.
The origins of the castle occurred when William accompanied his mother on an extended tour of Europe when he was 10 years old.
Work on the castle started in 1919 and was completed in 1947. The architect was Julia Morgan, she was also a civil engineer and served as the prime contractor. Records from her archives indicated that the total cost of the buildings and art was less $10,000.000 spent over the life of the project.
The Castle was the place to be for movies stars, politicians and business executives in the 1930s. Hearst would invite 20 guests each weekend for such leisure activities as horseback riding, tennis, pool and billiards, card games, swimming and so on.
There was a modern zoo on the property that included polar bears and other exotic animals. Other animals roamed free on the adjoining ranch with buffalo, elk, zebras, and Barbary sheep remaining today.
We toured the main floor of the Main House which included the game room, dining room, theater and chapel. But we didn't get any worthwhile pictures because we weren't permitted to use camera support (monopod or tripod) nor flash.