Guess who is listening to Christmas music and loooooving it. ME. I usually boycott all things Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I am so in the mood for the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I am still beyond pumped for Thanksgiving. Even Recovery Me is bouncing off the walls!
Today I got to do something I have wanted to do for quite a while: visit Hearst Castle. For those of you who do not know what that is, I will give you the low-down.
Back in 1865, a man named George Hearst, who had made it big mining silver, purchased forty thousand acres of ranch land on California’s Central Coast. His son, William Randolph Hearst, adored the land, where the family often camped. He and his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, took a year and a half trip around Europe, just because, and he fell in love with the architecture and art there, as well.
In 1919, William inherited the land from his father, which now covered 250,000 acres of the San Simeon Valley. He had also become one of the nation’s wealthiest and most famous newspaper publishers, creating what is known as “yellow journalism.” He had taken his land and created “La Cuesta Encantada” or “The Enchanted Hill,” and by 1947, with architect Julia Morgan, had built an estate with 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens. There was La Casa Grande, his main house, three guest houses, the Neptune Pool, and indoor pool with a tennis court roof, and the most perfect view you could imagine. He also had a zoo. A freaking zoo! He donated most of the animals to real zoos in San Diego and San Francisco, but there are plenty of zebras still breeding and roaming around.
Being about an hour from campus, I am surprised I have not made it up there before now. I got to have a private tour, thanks to a club I am in called PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America). For free. Cool is an understatement.
In previous years, the group has been able to see every room in the house and go “behind the velvet rope,” but this year, our special tour guide (the professor in charge, who does PR for the Castle) had another private tour for Scandinavian PR people right after us. It was still pretty darn cool to do though, so I am definitely not complaining.
I have only ever seen pictures of this castle. My sister got to visit a few years ago, and I have been dreaming of doing the same. This was a great opportunity to not only get to see the beautiful architecture of the castle, but to really see the history behind it all. And y’all know how much I love history.
I cannot quite explain just how perfect it is. The Spanish style architecture, the ecclesiastical artwork–all ancient, by the way–the gold gilded everything, and attention to details I would never have thought of. That is why I took plenty of pictures!
He constantly had guests staying with him, who all arrived by plane on the runway at the bottom of the hill and were driven up to the estate. Hollywood actresses, politicians, journalists, you name it! They were always riding horses, swimming in the pools, relaxing in the sun, playing tennis, seeing the wildlife. There never seemed to be a boring moment. And dinner itself each night was a whole other event! Plus a movie at the end of the night in a private theater.
In his time, the estate cost about ten million to create. That sounds like a lot, right? Think about how much that it worth now. I looked it up:$106,653,811.66. Crazy, right? All this right under my nose. Well, 40 miles north of it… By the way, his net worth is thirty-five billion today. Even crazier!
Did you know they have a special evening tour where you get to live like it’s the 1930s and see what it was like to be a guest of Hearst in its heyday. It sounds so. Freaking. Awesome.
I knew it would spark a story in me to see it all up close. And it did! I won’t give away details–mostly because I don’t even know what they are yet–but I can tell you it will be set back in time, and the narrator will be a guest, though not a famous one. And it will be an adventure of a weekend in paradise, but maybe with some mystery. Because mystery is the very best.
But for now, homework. And catching up on Law & Order: SVU.
PS Has anyone watched Man in the High Castle on Amazon yet? I don’t have an account, but Gracie’s dad is in it! Plus, the premise is genius. I need to see it immediately!!