Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Weekend at San Simeon: Day 3

Our weekend of Enchantment and dreams by the sea culminated with a lovely early morning beach watch. October is an especially beautiful time of year on the California coast and we drank in all its charms.

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For a finale we were treated to brunch with a spell-binding presentation by Victoria Kastner. Complete with historic photographs and dramatic monologues of the voice of W.R. Hearst speaking through his letters to his mother as to why she should support his desire to purchase wonderful European sculptures and other decorative arts now available throughout Europe following WWI. He was very persuasive with his impassioned quest to collect the finest objects, architectural fragments and tapestries.

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Victoria has been working with the Hearst’s for over 30 years and is the author of three books on all things relating to Hearst Castle.  This lecture by Ms. Kastner was a sneak preview of the book,” Hearst Ranch: Family, Land, and Legacy,” before its actual release on November 26 of this year. $(KGrHqZHJEkFHU165PC4BR6bS7CiRw~~_7[1]

Driving home to Sacramento, Ashlee Richardson and I had spirited discussions of what we had seen and learned from our special tour of San Simeon which was hosted by the ICAA ( Institute of Classical Art and Architecture).  We were delighted by the interesting professionals we had met from northern and southern California.  Our interior design project for California State University Sacramento was enhanced by the details we had gleaned from studying the Castle’s interior furnishings.  In general, our appreciation for Mr. Hearst, the collector and his relationship with Julia Morgan was heightened.  We came away from the weekend enchanted with the Hearst Castle and truly inspired.

We hope you will come along on our next adventure with Classical Architecture as our muse.

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A Weekend at San Simeon: Day 2

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On the crisp but sunny weekend morning by the ocean, we listened to the docent for the estate village of San Simeon describe how George Hearst first acquired his ranch from the Mexican land grant. We viewed the warehouses and construction buildings where the material to build the castle on the hill and the copious amount of antiques for the interior design were stored.

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Julia Morgan designed the warehouses as well as several Spanish Revival influenced homes for the estate and construction managers in the village where a charming school house still stands.

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The usual tour of La Cuesta Encantada had a higher level of interest than previous tours of the castle I attended with family because of how the docent specialized the tour to interest the design and construction professionals who attended.

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After the tour we viewed the film in the visitor center called “Hearst Castle-Building the Dream”, which beautifully portrays the collaborative effort between Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst in designing and building the castle.

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The evening tour brought a special feeling to the gorgeous estate on the hill. The sun set as we climbed the hill and by the time we toured one of the cottages the old alabaster lamps glowed and the interior furnishings looked spectacular in the softened light. Costumed docents invited visitors, strolled the grounds, and visited in the drawing rooms, playing cards and having refreshments provided by their imagined host Mr. Hearst. It all enhanced the thrill of peeking into the second story rooms of the bedrooms, library and study.

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Lamp shades from the thirties whisper secret messages of reverie enchanting every visitor of La Cuesta Encantada.

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A Weekend at San Simeon: Day 1

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A privileged few participants were indulged in a weekend immersed in the Hearst Castle legend, experiencing the magic of the California coast in beautiful October weather. Ashlee, my mentee who recently graduated from the Interior Architecture program at CSUS, was overjoyed that because of someone’s cancellation she was able to attend all the activities and tours of the weekend. She was by far the youngest person around in the group.

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We checked into our seaside lodging and visited the beach delighting in putting our feet into the  refreshing Pacific salt water.

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Our first tours gave us a flavor of the small coastal jewel of a town, Cambria. An artist and her  husband, a talented mason, shared their home and incredible secret garden with us. Around every turn of the enchanted oasis was a assemblage of beauty. This unique couple has collected fine antiques and sentimental items to divide their garden and home into intimate spaces with incomparable charm.

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Our next stop was a home constructed with no 90 degree angles in the woods. The home was designed by Warren Leopold who proudly presented himself as “NALA”- not a licensed architect. The large open main space included the kitchen and living room as well as views of a floating staircase leading to a mezzanine.

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We then drove to downtown Cambria to a social gathering in Evans and Gearst Antiques, a beautiful newly finished spaces where only the floors and ceilings were original,  its charming volume filled with the most beautiful and rare antiques. This antiquarian deals by appointment only and began his long career in the Hearst warehouse among the huge collection of the titan publisher. Our host Jim Evans of “Evans and Gearst Antiques”, brought along his girlfriend and companion, Margaret Mondavi. She was so elegant, this lovely lady of a certain age!

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We ended the night by walking just around corner and down the street to Robin’s Restaurant. We sat on the back terrace of the restaurant enclosed with windows and crowned with a ceiling of ivy and twinkle light. We had a wonderful special four course menu to order from. Our group of thirty or so was split into three tables, allowing us to get to know the people seated around us. Filled with architectural and design inspiration we returned to our hotel to rest before day 2 of our enchanted weekend began.

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