“Pullitzer and Hearst they think they got us, do they got us? No!” — Newsies
Be still my media-history-and-disney-musical-loving heart. The last major visit of our short Carmel trip before heading home was to a glorious place just north of Los Angeles (in San Simeon) called Hearst Castle.
There are ZEBRAS there (but we didn’t get to see any.)
More importantly Hearst Castle is the lifelong project of Mr. William Randolph Hearst — the newspaper/media mogul of the 20s-40s who was the real-life inspiration for the movie Citizen Kane.
Hearst Castle is also the inspiration for Xanadu in the movie.
Mr. Hearst is also the bad guy in the musical Newsies — the true life story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 (in song!)
But back to the estate…
The castle is built on land that Hearst’s parents purchased in 1865 — his mother was completely against his plans to build a lavish home on the land. So he waited until she died and then did it anyway. Construction on the castle estate started in 1919…and continued for the next twenty-eight years until William Hearst got sick in 1947 and halted work on the grounds.
According to our very informative tour guide, Mr. Hearst had a huge shopping addiction, which explained why there were SO many knickknacks (very expensive, one-of-a-kind knickknacks…) on the property. There were SO many gorgeous marble statues. His shopping was actually so out of control that he had to send his employees out to buy things for him — if an art seller or antique dealer knew it was Mr. Hearst looking for a piece, they would automatically TRIPLE their prices!
The entire property sits at the very top of a hill, and is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. It consists of the main house Casa Grande:
And three “smaller” (a relative term) guest houses:
There’s also an outdoor pool, and an indoor pool.
The tile of the indoor pool is made of pure gold.
The estate also has its own airfield, which was used by entertainment and political persons. Getting an invite to Hearst Castle could propel a Hollywood career to superstardom — frequent guests included Charlie Chaplin (whom guests nicknamed the court jester, he was there so often), the Marx Brothers and Clark Gable.
Hearst Castle is now a California State Park and a historic landmark, which is why large pieces of the property are open to tours.
We were on the entry level tour — it gives a great overview of the estate. I’m considering going back sometime between April and October for a garden tour since all the tours are so reasonably priced. It’s a really great place for film buffs and historians alike, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!