Hearstily speaking


Lady Steed and I went to Hearst Castle on Monday and bathed in the richness and opulence and about six inches of rain. We watched an IMAX film on the building of Hearst Castle, which was a shame. Alternating with that film, they ought to be showing Citizen Kane. Maybe I would finally understand why it is, apparently, the greatest film ever (ever) if I could see it so large that I could picnic in one of Orson Welles's pores. In the meantime, my vote still goes to Vertigo.

Anyway, the house was lovely, if a bit much for my tastes. Although I suppose if I had household staff, I might own a dog as well.

The castle costs the state $11 million a year to keep it up--which explains the hefty cost of a visit. To build and furnish it only cost Hearst $10 million dollars ("only").

I'll admit I was disappointed by how little of the artwork we saw wowzahed me. I had anticipated being in a romantic flurry of the beautiful and the sublime, but only a couple pieces really struck me--one being a Venus by Canova which was thought lost after some guy named Willson bought it and disappeared. Willson, it ends up, was Hearst's father-in-law. The statue, it ends up, was next to the poker table.

When visiting Hearst Castle, you are extremely limited as to where you can go and what you can see and how dry you can stay. I suppose the solution is for me to go back to school, take a degree in art history, and become an employee of the California parks department.

One thing we also did not see was William Randolph Hearst's bones. They are in Colma, with a lot of other dead people's bones. Before we got married, Lady Steed and I spent a day taking cemetery pictures in Colma, but I don't recall whether we saw Hearst's private mausoleum or not. Anyway, wish you were here.




  1. Wish I were there, too.

  2. So I'd never heard of it until now. I just looked it up and I'm wondering why they don't make this thing into a hotel or an Inn.

  3. .

    Couple reasons, I suppose. First, the art collection is on par with many metromuseums. Second, even this week, a rainy Monday in the offseason, the place was packed with tourists from all over the globe. The lure of Xanadu is such that it really is an appropriate thing for the state parks department to manage.

    Honestly, I don't know if turning it into a hotel could fly financially. All the added insurance on the artwork when people have it behind locked doors. The lower traffic. And the place is still in the middle of nowhere, after all.

  4. I don't like Hearst, I never really have. But I would like to see his castle.

  5. Reminds me of my trip to Graceland.

    I wanted to see the toilet on which Elvis suffered his untimely demise. Alas, they don't let you upstairs...

  6. I saw the Castle several years back with the fam. I have to say, I'm not really that interested in drooling over rich people's ostentatious displays of their wealth (and they probably wouldn't appreciate the drool, either. I mean, they spent a lot of money on that stuff. anyway...) The only thing I remember about the place was the indoor pool, with the fabulous glass tile mosaic covering just about every surface of the pool and the structure housing it. I love mosaics. and glass tiles.

    Oh, and to "picnic in one of Orson Welles's pores" doesn't sound all that appealing to me, but it made me laugh. (or languh, as I almost wrote... and then did)

  7. .

    That pool was very, very cool. I love lapus and gold. I think I'll have to do my interior swimming pool up the same way.

  8. The degree-in-art-history-plus-state-park-employee plan kind of intrigues me. Maybe if the firefighter thing doesn't work out, I can give tours somehwere about Beowulf?

  9. .


    Have they made Grendel's mother's cave a park yet?