I love visiting historical sites and as most of you know I love it when the sites also have a good ghost story. Hearst Castle isn’t haunted, but every loving touch made to this place gives tribute to William Randolph Hearst, who created this castle in the sky. What an impressive place and my family and I had the chance to walk the grounds where he held parties and gatherings, and where he lived, loved and dreamed.
William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper publisher that influenced American journalism. He took control of The San Francisco Examiner in 1887 from his father. He had the best equipment and the most talented writers of the time, including Mark Twain and Jack London. He also acquired The New York Journal and had a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest magazine business in the world. Hearst Magazines began in 1903 with the publication of Motor magazine. In 1911, Hearst acquired Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping. In 1929, he created Hearst Metrotone with the movie studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer and produced newsreels with footage around the world. They were shown in movie theatres.
His mansion, La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Slope) or best known as Hearst Castle, is near San Simeon, California. There was 240,000 acres when the mansion was built on the hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Hearst began building his mansion in 1919, alongside Julia Morgan, the first female architect of the time. He furnished the mansion with art, antiques, and entire rooms brought from the great houses in Europe. He also love animals and used the ranch for Arabian horse breeding. He also had an extensive zoo with a herd of more than 300 animals.
He also had housed animals in menagerie cages. He had black bears, grizzly bears, sun bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys, macaws kinkajous, coatie mundis, swans, storks, a tapir, and a elephant. Their diet and exercise were controlled and there was always a veterinarian on staff. When Hearst experienced some financial difficulties, he donated many of the animals to the public zoos. By 1953, two years after Hearst had passed away, many of the animals that were not dangerous to the public, were permitted to range free on the ranch. Today, you’ll still find the Rocky Mountain elk, tahr goats, llamas, white fallow deer, zebras, Barbary sheep and sambar deer.
The Hearst Corporation donated the Mansion to California in 1957, and now is a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark. They offer daytime and nighttime tours. My family and I took the nighttime tour in November. Many of the docents were dressed in period clothing and the mansion was decorated for the holiday season in the fashion Hearst would have had it decorated. It was lovely.
If you could build your dream house, where would it be? Would it look like a Medieval Castle? a Log house? a Victorian House? Or something a little more down to earth?
About the Author:
Karen Michelle Nutt
Author of time travel and otherworldly tales.
Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all my stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.
*Photos of Hearst Castle by K.M. Nutt
* Photo of Randolph Hurst is a Public Domain Photo