Wednesday, January 12, 2011

San Simeon: Morning, Billiard and theater rooms.

Located behind the Refectory or Dining Room (#3 on the floorplan below) are a series of 'smaller' rooms which house a variety of functions.
Directly attached to the refectory is the morning room. The heavy Spanish influenced style doesn't neccesarily strike me as typical of the light and airy space typical of a morning room but it is sun filled with large french doors out to the patio.The reclaimed woodwork throughout this main section of the castle is extraordinary. I loved this zigzag pattern in a vestibule ceiling.
Below is the vestibule out to the patio.
The walls are square cut stone with these really interesting doorways: not sure if they were created for the site or were reclaimed. Are those the symbol of the Prince of Wales above the doorways -the 3 ostrich plumes? Our tour guide didn't know. Notice the radio on the sideboard: in this 'museum' like setting, people were living, having parties, curing hang-overs while drinking their morning coffee.
Behind the morning room lies the billiard room, no 'fancy' antique looking pool tables for Mr. Hearst, they're more appropriate to a pool hall! I loved the polychrome ceiling in this room and those gilt chandeliers.
Last is the theater which could match any grand movie palace of the day, #7 on the floorplan above. After dinner, Mr. Hearst would screen the newest movies from his movie studio, Cosmopolitan Productions, which frequently featured his long time mistress, Marion Davies.
Marion Davies acted as hostess here at the 'ranch'. She started out as one of the famous Ziegfeld Girls of 1916 before quickly becoming one of the first movie stars. Her later career as a major film actress existed mainly because Hearst created his film studio to feature her movies. She appeared in 29 silent movies for the company as well as 17 'talkies'. It has been rumoured that her 'niece' was actually Hearst's and Marions daughter, but I haven't heard of that has been proved. While never married, she was clearly the love of his life. Davies suffered from alcoholism and died 10 years after Hearst's death of cancer.

9 comments:

Topaz said...

Thank you for providing a floor plan when you are able. It always helps this former architecture student better understand a space.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Topaz, I couldn't agree more about floorplans!

Divine Theatre said...

Thank you, again for such a lovely post! This is what I wish my 18 ft ceilings in my suburban poorly contrived suburban builders house looked like!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Divine, the magic of paint can do wonders -well, and scaffolding in your case -18' wow!

Divine Theatre said...

Apparently I become redundant if I post before coffee! LOL!
I really look forward to reading your blog and I find inspiration in every post.
Thank you!

The Down East Dilettante said...

First time a San Simeon floor plan has ever crossed my path. Fascinating to see how its main floor is completely made up of long rooms with very little corridor driven circulation, no grand stair, and lots of smaller stairs to solve circulation on upper floors. fascinating.

And oh, that theater.

The Devoted Classicist said...

It has been only fairly recent that I have seen any of the films of Marion Davies. In spite of being the boss's girlfriend, she was truly a wonderful actress. She must have been delightful as hostess of The Castle. (I understand that she did not like another Hearst retreat, still privately owned, Wyntoon; she referred to it as "Spitoon").

Cote de Texas said...

the floor plan is great. i've always wanted to go. maybe one day!!!

magnus said...

Thanks to a childhood friendship with a Hearst great-grand-daughter, I was given a private tour of San Simeon about ten years ago. It was utterly fascinating, and I fell in love with the place. Although it epitomizes the word "pastiche", to my mind its setting and sheer exuberance overcome all the nit picking in which the interiors almost beg you to indulge. My tour was doubly fascinating as my guide was happy to indulge my desire to see parts of the house that were not open ("What's up there?" I would say when confronted by a red velvet rope. "I don't know. let's see" he would merrily reply as we pushed the stanchions aside. I was also able to see some of the "behind the scenes" areas, including the huge filtering aapparatus and settling pools underneath the Neptune Terrace. Your wonderful series of photographs brings back memories of an astonishing day.