William Randolph Hearst, a media mogul, was the driving force behind the architectural folly named Hearst Castle. Located in San Simeon CA, the sprawling Hearst Castle is representative of vast land holdings and vast wealth as well as vast ostentation. We had the opportunity to tour the Hearst Castle while on a trip to San Francisco. The words that I use to describe the Hearst Castle are unreal, extravagant, dominating, opulent, magnificent, artful, remarkable.
The view of the Pacific Ocean from the Hearst Castle.
Not only was Hearst a newspaper publisher, he was also considered a media genius and a political activist. He was a collector of art and a collector of Hollywood friends. When he decided to have the Hearst Castle built, he was inspired by castles and art that he had seen in Europe. Hearst wanted the grandeur of European architecture to be re-created in the United States. An architect named Julia Morgan worked with Hearst for 28 years to construct a castle worthy of being compared to those in Europe. Hearst died in 1951 and the castle was never completely finished in his lifetime.
The outdoor pool.
To Hearst, his almost finished castle was an excellent example of borrowing from the past…a re-creation…a seemingly romantic and classic structure. To students of architecture, it is considered a folly. A folly is described in architectural terms (according to follybydesign.com) as an ornamental structure that reflects the whimsical nature of the builder. The structure is built primarily to be viewed as part of the scenery.
The dining room.
When we visited the Hearst Castle, I was not familiar with this terminology. There is no doubt that the castle is part of the scenery…the grand scale of the structure, the lavish swimming pools with water as blue as the sky, the light and dark green landscaping, the wide lens view of the Pacific Ocean, the fog that often surrounds the castle. I would gladly visit the castle again and immerse myself in the structure’s history.
One of the bell towers.
Whether considered powerful and sometimes ruthless or considered a genius of a businessman, Hearst put his vision into fruition for all the world to see. I do not call that merely whimsical or merely ornamental. I call it a historical curiosity worthy of wonder.