In 1919, at the age of 60 he began work on fulfilling his life long dream of building his own castle. His castle, know as Hearst Castle, was built on a 250,000 acre estate on the Pacific coast of California half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It ultimately included 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world’s largest private zoo.
Invitations to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920s and ’30s. The Hollywood and political elite often visited. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Calvin Coolidge, William P. Clark, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst’s A-list guests.
Hearst Castle became famous and was caricatured in the 1941 Orson Welles film “Citizen Kane” as Charles Foster Kane’s “Xanadu”. The estate is portrayed as a gloomy and ridiculously self-indulgent barony.
Hearst Castle was eventually donated to the state of California, thus allowing non “A-list” folk like me infiltrate the castle for the price of a $30 tour ticket.
Next Stop – The American Riviera – Santa Barbara, California