Monday, June 4, 2012

One for the Bucket List, Part 4: Inside Hearst Castle

In December my sister and I took a perfectly wonderful trip to California. 
We drove down Highway One from San Francisco to Cambria (see that post here) …
took a backroad through the hills from Walmart (see that post here) …
and visited Hearst Castle (see Part 1 here).

This castle was the 30 year project of William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan.
They began work in 1919 and, as beautiful as it is,
it still wasn't complete in Mr. Hearst’s mind when he died in 1951.

As he furnished the castle, Mr. Hearst traveled all over the world to acquire furnishings appropriate for “the ranch”, as he called it.  Everything you see inside, including artwork, sculptures, carvings, ceiling panels, furniture, rugs, tilework, tapestries ... everything  … has some historical significance.  
And your tour guide can tell you anything you want to know about everything you see.

Being there in December was especially enchanting,
 since the castle was decorated for Christmas as it would have been in Mr. Hearst’s day. 

There were two 18 foot Christmas trees in the Gathering Room, one on either end.  Mr. Hearst especially loved Christmas, and would have a Christmas party for the children of his employees.  One tree was for the boys, one was for the girls, and the children were invited to choose a gift from underneath the trees.  One child of a former employee told about selecting a gift that turned out to be a bicycle.

The door to the dining room is through the wall of carved seating in the Gathering Room, and that wall also has a secret door that Mr. Hearst used to enter the Gathering Room.
Because every castle needs a secret door.

Mr. Hearst enjoyed entertaining, and his guests were expected to contribute to making it a pleasant party.
No going to your room and playing the recluse!

So if dinner isn’t quite ready yet, perhaps you’d like a game of billiards?

Or you might be more at home in the upstairs library …

Or maybe you’d like to spend a little time in Mr. Hearst’s personal study (this was my favorite room) …

Most of the bedrooms have adjoining sitting rooms, if you’d rather …

Each, of course decked out with priceless antiquities

And  a great view …

Oh, but there’s the call to dinner … shall we into the dining room?

On one end of the dining room is a balcony for the musicians.  On the other end is a giant fireplace.  Mr. Hearst’s seat was in the center of the long table.  Our tour guide told us that guests were generally seated close to Mr. Hearst at the beginning of their visit, but as their stay extended, their seat assignments would migrate to the ends of the table.  Except, as the story goes, for one of the Marx brothers. 
He tended to annoy Mr. Hearst, so he was seated right beside the blazing fireplace his entire stay.

It was suggested to Mr. Hearst that the high windows in the dining hall be replaced with stained glass.
But he opted for clear glass … certain that the angels would prefer to keep their view :o)

Guests were invited to the castle with a specific arrival date but no mention of departure.
You would simply know  when it was time to leave. 

ummmmmmmmm ... would never be okay?

I'm linking this post to Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Reading Party at Serenity Now!

Weekend Bloggy Reading

This One for the Bucket List California Road Trip is a Six Part Series.  
Click below for:
( You just read Part 4 )

Shared joy is doubled joy ... let's double the joy for both of us - what are you most grateful for today? Click below to leave your comment. I'll go first :

  1. I would love to see this one day. I think I'll add it to my bucket list right now!

  2. oh! i hope you do! it's really hard to convey how beautiful it is ... the castle is amazing, and then there's the stunning views ... just incredible!

  3. WoW! I've lived in SOCal my whole life & have never been there...Looks lovely.