4 & 5: Projects for the Hearst Family: San Simeon

Morgan designed projects for both Phoebe Hearst and her son William Randolph. Her best known work for the Hearst family is the incredible La Cuestra Encantada, or Hearst Castle at San Simeon.  The Hearst family had owned the San Simeon property since 1865, and there had been a modest “ranch” there until 1919.[1] However, W. R. Hearst had grand plans to renovate and enlarge it, and work took place on the property from 1919 to 1942.[2] Morgan designed the buildings (ultimately consisting of a main house, 3 “cottages”, staff housing, and a poultry-farm house) primarily in a Spanish Renaissance style[3], but was also responsible for designing roads, a new pier, several swimming pools, exotic animal enclosures, landscaped areas, and warehouses[4] to hold the furnishings that Hearst or his agents were continually sending back from his travels. Morgan acted as far more than a designer for this project. She “ran the job”, which included hiring, firing, settling labor disputes; arranging lodging, food and working quarters for the laborers; making trips to interview specialists; procuring special (and rare) plants and materials, creating crafts centers on site; arranging transportation by ship, rail, and truck to the site; building warehouses and cataloging objects to be incorporated in the project; and satisfying the whims of artisans and client.[5] Hearst Castle at San Simeon is now owned and managed by California State Parks.


[2] Boutelle, 176

[3] Boutelle 177.

[4] Boutelle, 178-179, 200

[5] Boutelle, 212-213.