Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Second in the Great Houses Posts

Casa Grande

It took 38 years for architect Julia Morgan, working with William Randolph Hearst and others, to complete the construction of La Questa Encantada, (The Enchanted Hill), on a hillside near San Simeon. Located roughly half-way between Monterey and Santa Barbara, the Hearst San Simeon property covered 40,000 acres along the California Central Coast. Hearst, with fond memories of the location he inherited from his father and the site of memorable family camping trips, was determined to build his own private “castle”. Starting out as a “bungalow” because Hearst felt he was getting too old for camping, the project soon swelled to a sprawling Spanish Colonial Revival compound embellished with the Renaissance and Baroque flourishes that Hearst loved. Morgan was more than happy to oblige, as his wishes blended well with her preferred architectural style.

According to Wikipedia, “Hearst Castle has a total of 42 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield and, during Hearst’s lifetime, the world’s largest private zoo.”  I believe it, because I’ve been there.

The husband and I drove from Seattle to San Clemente, where my mother-in-law lived. After spending time with her, we meandered back north along Highway 101 and met up with my sister and brother-in-law–who love touring big old houses as much as I do. While the husband lounged in the car with our dogs–not so much love of touring old houses there–we did the gardens and house with a guide.

The Neptune Pool

The Neptune Pool

Indoor pool, one of many

An abundance of statuary

One of three elaborate guest houses

And as a bonus, below is the view from Nepenthe Hotel at Big Sur.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Second in the Great Houses Posts — 1 Comment

  1. When we first moved to San Francisco, my family drove to LA to visit relatives via 101, and toured San Simeon. I would have loved to see some of the backstairs areas (the kitchens and other service areas) but they were in the midst of some restoration work. I still remember the almost shocking blue of the tile in one of the inside pools.

    On our way back up we stayed overnight at one of the Hearst “camps”–now, I think, owned by the State of California. They were fairly simply Spanish-style cottages (ours was notable for a total lack of heat on a chilly evening) where Hearst and his guests could stay over after riding across country, then return in the morning. He was still too old for camping.