Friday, November 16, 2007

Those Lucky Hearsts

Hearst Castle is just minutes up the road from our campground in San Simeon. We've seen the castle once before, years ago, but we wanted Allison to have a look. Some things have changed, namely the visitors center is renovated. Now there is an IMAX movie included in the tour. It does a very good job of romanticizing Hearst and his times. No mention of Yellow Journalism or Citizen Kane. It gives appropriate credit to the great architect, Julie Morgan, an individual worthy of her own showcasing. Has there been a movie made about her, I wonder?

The buildings and grounds are truly impressive though nothing like the great medieval castles of Europe. Hearst Castle has it's own style, mostly called Mediterranean Revival. Allison actually seemed a bit disappointed: was she expecting something along the lines of Disneyland? What I love most are the cottages with their dark, cozy rooms overlooking the Pacific.

The setting of Hearst Castle is what impresses me. What a commanding view. Hearst's daddy bought up all the land farther than the eye can see. I think something along the lines of 300 square miles worth. I can't even imagine what that must have felt like to make that big of a land purchase on the California coast. George Hearst was one lucky man. His enormous wealth came from gold and silver mining ventures in California.

I would have liked to live in that era at the turn of the 20th century. Newcomers to California and other points west must have lived in a perpetual state of exhilaration at all the abundance and promise the territory held. Of course, I would have preferred to be in the lucky camp--the ones who made it big in mining, ranching, farming, etc, like good old George Hearst.

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