Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California, United States. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts roughly one million visitors per year.
Hearst formally named the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”), but usually called it “the ranch”. The castle and grounds are also sometimes referred to as “San Simeon” without distinguishing between the Hearst property and the adjacent unincorporated area of the same name.
Hearst Castle is located near the unincorporated community of San Simeon, California approximately 250 miles (400 km) from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and 43 miles (69 km) from San Luis Obispo at the northern end of San Luis Obispo County.
The estate itself is five miles (eight kilometers) inland atop a hill of the Santa Lucia Range at an altitude of 1,600 feet (490 m). The region is sparsely populated because the Santa Lucia Range abuts the Pacific Ocean, which provides dramatic seaside vistas but few opportunities for development and hampered transportation. The surrounding countryside visible from the mansion remains largely undeveloped. Its entrance is adjacent to San Simeon State Park.
Hearst first approached American architect Julia Morgan with ideas for a new project in April 1915, shortly after he took ownership. Hearst’s original idea was to build a bungalow, according to a draftsman who worked in Morgan’s office who recounted Hearst’s words from the initial meeting:
Invitations to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920s and ’30s. The Hollywood and political elite often visited, usually flying into the estate’s airfield or taking a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Dolores Del Rio, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst’s A-list guests
Hearst Castle joined the National Register of Historic Places on June 22, 1972 and became a United States National Historic Landmark on May 11, 1976.
The total square footage of the castles on the estate exceeds 90,000 square feet (8,300 m²). The area of Casa Grande, the “castle”, is 60,645 square feet (5,634 m²).
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