Hearst Castle Part II: Main House and Indoor Pool
After seeing the Neptune Pool and visiting Casa del Sol guesthouse, our tour of Hearst Castle proceeded up the steps shown in the next photo and went past a portion of the rose garden toward the main house.
Many of the design features of the estate were influenced by Hearst's childhood trips to Europe with his mother. There is art, sculpture, and antiques in the mansion and around the grounds from all over the world. The next photo shows an Egyptian sculpture from 3500 AD outside the main house.
The facade of main house, shown in the photo below, was inspired by a church in Spain.
The buildings at Hearst Castle are constructed of reinforced concrete to resist earthquakes. The concrete is covered with stone for a more classical appearance.
Inside Casa Grande, we went into the Assembly Room, which is the largest of four sitting rooms in the main house. The fireplace, which is one of 41 at Hearst Castle (there are 30 in the main house alone), is from a castle in Europe. Art, sculpture, and antiques are everywhere. Some say Hearst built the estate just so he would have a place to put his immense collection of art and antiques. In fact, Hearst Castle houses the largest private collection of art in the world.
In the Assembly Room, guests of Hearst met for games and drinks before dinner. Some of the famous A-list guests at Hearst Castle over the years include Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Buster Keaton, the Marx brothers, Barbara Stanwix, Winston Churchill, Calvin Coolidge, Hedda Hopper, Charles Lindbergh, and Howard Hughes - just to name a few.
Dinner was served late - usually at 9:00 PM. Hearst Castle has only one dining room, which is shown below. The walls are hung with antique tapestries and lined with antique paneling from European cathedrals.
the day, guests were usually left to fend for themselves while Mr.
Hurst conducted the business of his many companies. The estate was so
elaborate, guests were never at a loss for things to do. The Neptune Pool, which we wrote about in our previous post, was heated and there was also an indoor pool, so many guests enjoyed swimming.
William Hearst had a keen interest in animals. There was a zoo on the grounds of the estate with animals from around the world. It was the largest private zoo at the time. A herd of over 300 grazing animals such as elk, bison, European white fallow deer, several species of African and Asian antelope, zebras, camels, llamas, big horned sheep, musk oxen, kangaroos, ostriches, and emus roamed the hillsides. Giraffes were kept in a pen near the road. More dangerous animals like big cats and bears and even an elephant were kept in cages that were considered to be state of the art at the time and allowed the animals more room than most zoos of the era. Hearst began to dismantle the zoo in 1937 when he experienced financial difficulties. Most animals were donated to zoos or sold.
There was also a vine-covered pergola that was a mile and a half long where guests could stroll or ride horses in the shade.
Guests could also go to the theater where Mr. Hearst showed films from his motion picture studio to his guests. The tour visits the theater where today they show a few minutes of home movies of Mr. Hearst and some of his famous guests.
The last stop for the tour before boarding the bus to head back down the hill to the visitor center was the indoor pool. The design of the pool was inspired by a Roman bath. The pool has tile mosaics of fish on the ceiling and gold-leaf tiles in the shape of stars on the bottom of the pool. The idea was to turn your world upside down.
When we returned to the visitor center, we watched an excellent 40-minute film entitled "Hearst Castle - Building the Dream." The film traces the history of the family and the estate and was included with our tour.
leaving Hearst Castle, we made a quick stop along the beach for photos.
It was sunny on top of the hill at the estate, and by afternoon, the sun also made a
rare appearance down at the shore. There were numerous picturesque overlooks on our way back like the one shown below.
Then it was back to the motor home. For our next stop, we will be moving north to stay near Monterey Peninsula.