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GOOD NEWS: Secrets At Hearst Castle

There is a special 'behind the scenes' tour of Hearst Castle, the fantastic dream of William Randolph Hearst (W. R. to almost every one close to him).
We get to go places no regular tour goes and learn some secrets. We even visit the connecting bedrooms - never slept in - of W. R. and the beautiful love of his life.

W. R. called this 'castle', 'the ranch' although he formally named it "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill").

The castle name came from some P. R. genius for the State of California which owns and runs this fantasy on the hill as a California State Park.

Our guide tells us that this is the second highest grossing of all California State Parks. Guess what the highest grossing is. The answer is at the end of this tour.

Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres (0.51 km2) of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo. All of this is pretty much intact today except the zoo although Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds today.

Everything you are about to see is V. I. P. and only the pools which bookend every tour are seen by the general public but you get to see even them from a different, private angle.

The view above looks familiar to anyone who has taken a tour of the castle, except that tours typically start on the ocean side of the Neptune pool and most tourist pictures show the mountains as background. This photo was taken from the 'behind the scenes' side and the Pacific Ocean backdrop, which makes for a much prettier picture, can clearly be seen.

Now we go down below and see the elaborate system which keeps the pool so beautifully clear designed by castle architect Julia Morgan who was a trained civil engineer.

Here we are under the formal front entrance to the castle. What you see directly in front of us is the old grand stairway to the entrance plaza. When it was finished, W. R. decided the entrance plaza wasn't grand enough and the newer larger one, which exists today, was built right over the old plaza and staircase.

Further along the underground level is a large area which was to be the bowling alleys for the estate. They were never built and today it is used for special occasion preparations, especially the elaborate and spectacular Christmas decorations. If you haven't seen the house at Christmas time, we strongly recommend you make a visit some year soon. It is the closest you will ever come to Christmas paradise.

In the documents storage area we see original plans for the estate and here, in W. R.'s handwriting, is his request to his architect, Julia Morgan, that the outside of a guest house "should have a fountain or a statue or a della Robbia piece set in or something... Think a della Robbia against a white wall might be best?" (Luca della Robbia (1400-1482) was an Italian sculptor from Florence, noted for his terracotta three dimensional wall sculptures.)

One of the many special purpose areas is this carpet storage bin.

Another areas holds these doors, panels, busts, columns and other interior design elements. W. R. bought and bought and bought and the basement here has only a tiny fraction of the unused items found after his death.

Here is a special file holding the original Italian festival flags which adorned the refectory (dining room). They are lovely but tattered as you can see in the corner nearest the camera and they have been replaced by modern duplicates.

And, in a photo taken during an earlier Christmas tour, the refectory's new flags can be seen in all their glory.

Now, we get to ride in Mr. Hearst's private elevator straight from the basement to the fourth floor and the penthouse suites.

In case you hadn't noticed, everything in every direction is a classic treasure.

This is a view of the living room between the two suites. Although there were fifty odd other bedrooms at the ranch, late in his life W. R. ordered these two suites for himself and his good and great friend, Marion Davies. Sadly, he sickened and died before ever occupying them.

This is the separate sitting area in Mr. Hearst's bedroom. Everything in sight is rare and special but notice the lamp off to the right.

We were particularly taken with this globe lamp with its bell shaped shade. Probably because it was one of the few items in the castle that we could relate to as fitting into our humble abode.

This is W. R.'s never - slept - in bed. Besides the European castle look, everything tends to look very 1930s, not surprising since he seemingly abandoned the estate in the early forties.

The 1930s look Included this bathroom, the longest one we've ever seen, which linked Mr. Hearst's bedroom suite with Miss Davies'. The toilet, though, is pretty out in the open there.

Miss Davies' suite included a living room as well but it was never finished or furnished.

All tours conclude with the Roman Pool, an indoor pool lined with Venetian glass and gold tiles.

The public tours enter and exit out of sight of this photo. It was taken from the tiled diving platform. We got to climb the steep staircase ladder and peer and photo from this special area where Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers and Joan Crawford jumped into the pool.

Since everyone who was anyone visited 'the ranch', Charles Lindbergh, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw and even Winston Churchill may have also jumped from there but, based on our difficulty getting up there, we judge they probably didn't.

Many Thanks to Wikipedia.

All photographs are from TheCOOLpix Archive.

P. S. The highest grossing 'park' in the California State Park system is the parking lot at Venice State Beach. It, apparently, is a separate state park from the beach and takes in the most money.


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