Hearst Castle’s new Julia Morgan Tour is limited to eight people and takes you behind the scenes to parts of Hearst Castle rarely seen by the public.
Hearst Castle has a range of specialist tours that keep visitors coming back for more. We’ve been lucky enough to do a regular tour and also a very special Evening Tour. For this, actors bring Hearst Castle to life as you walk through the rooms and grounds, playing the roles of guests and servants when William Randolph Hearst threw one of his legendary parties.
Hearst Castle Evening Tour
Regular guests at Hearst Castle parties included Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, and Clark Gable. There’s also a special Hearst and Hollywood Tour, which we definitely want to do next time we visit. Hearst Castle is certainly one of the very best places to see when you’re driving the Pacific Coast Highway.
Hearst Castle's Roman Pool
Hearst Castle’s new Julia Morgan Tour is another one we also want to try to do. This was introduced in 2022, when Hearst Castle re-opened to the public after the closure during the pandemic.
It includes visits to parts of Hearst Castle that are rarely seen by the public. These have been chosen to show Morgan’s flair for design, and there are also some of her architectural drawings, family photographs, and personal items.
Julia Morgan (1872-1957) was a remarkable woman. She was the first woman to be admitted to the Beaux-Arts de Paris, she was the first certified female architect in California, and she was the first American woman to head her own architectural office.
Little wonder that Hearst hired her to design Hearst Castle for him on his San Simeon Estate. It was to become her greatest architectural achievement, not least because the scale of the operation gave her little time to pursue other contracts.
The project went on for decades, and grew grander and grander over time. Hearst was a demanding employer, but also someone who paid top dollar to get what he wanted. Work on the project started in 1919, and it took 25 years to build Hearst Castle, though work was ongoing until 1947 when Hearst’s health started to decline.
Morgan worked for three generations of the Hearst family, including elsewhere in California and in planning William Randolph Hearst’s cattle ranch in Mexico.
She also had a long association with the YWCA and designed several of their hostels in California, Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii. Many of these can still be seen, including one in Pacific Grove near Monterey, although they all now have different purposes. If you’re curious to see the one in Pacific Grove, it is now the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Center and is at 800 Asilomar Avenue.
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