In 1919 Hearst and Morgan began discussions about a residence on the top of a hill in the Santa Lucia mountains near San Simeon--a hilltop called "Camp Hill" by the family. Hearst and his family had camped on this hill in tents erected on wooden platforms when they vacationed on his 250,000 acre Piedra Blanca Ranch during the first two decades of the 20th century. Although the estate was given the formal name, La Cuesta Encantada, Hearst usually referred to it as "the ranch" (meaning the 250,000 acre ranch). As the project progressed, it included three guesthouses on the lower hilltop and a huge main residence, Casa Grande, at the top with an unimpeded view of the ocean and valleys below.Morgan was not only responsible for these buildings but for designing five Mission style residences for Hearst's top employees and a Mission style warehouse in the town of San Simeon (as well as overseeing the constuction of four utilitarian steel warehouses in San Simeon)-- to house Hearst's extensive art collections. She also designed a Mission style complex of buildings for the poultry farm and a Mission style bunkhouse for the ranch hands at the ranch headquarters. She designed a zoo, pools, and landscaping for the entire site. She directed all aspects of construction, at least through subordinates, including a construction superintendent. Although she continued to design projects from her San Francisco office, her devotion to this project was remarkable. On many weekends--over 500!--she rode the night train on Friday from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo (about 50 miles south), then took a taxi to San Simeon; she would return in time for work on Monday morning. Construction slowed at the complex in 1937 and then resumed from 1946 to early 1948. In 1957 the Hearst Corporation gave ownership of the estate to California. The California Department of Parks and Recreation has managed the Castle since 1958.
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