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book review: hearst ranch

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book review: hearst ranch

One of my favourite places to go when I visit California is Hearst Castle, otherwise known as San Simeon, La Cuesta Encantada or “The Ranch” as its owner, media giant William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) affectionately called it. Perched high above San Simeon Bay on the state’s Central Coast, the castle and its guest houses are the main attraction for visitors, but the surrounding property (originally about 250,000 acres) is a working cattle ranch, and has been for more than 150 years. I was lucky enough to score a copy of the new book Hearst Ranch ($57, Abrams, abramsbooks.com) by Victoria Kastner, Hearst Castle’s historian, and through stunning photography and insightful text she takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the ranch and introduces us to the people who’ve been a part of it. Besides detailing the adventurous lives of the cowboys that still work the land here, the book reveals the family’s private residences and many of the ranch buildings designed by prominent architect Julia Morgan (1872-1957), who devoted much of her professional life to this property. My favourite? The poultry ranch manager’s house, designed by Julia Morgan in 1928, a five-bedroom bungalow in the Mission Revival style that was described as the most delightful employee residence on the entire estate. Featuring the style’s signature adobe walls, clay roof tiles, exterior archades and towers, the house would suit my tastes exactly – not too ostentatious, but with a Spanish flair that speaks to the secret flamenco dancer that lives inside me. [caption id="attachment_24215" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Photography by Alexander Vertikoff"] [/caption] P.S. What does a poultry ranch manager do, you ask? Well, in the 1930s, the man who held the post was Gladwin B. Read, and he raised everything from pheasants, turkey and squab to pelicans, penguins and peacocks (only for display, mind you). And honestly, while chickens are not the most appealing of livestock, if I was offered this house along with the deal I think I could look after a brood without too much trouble. What do you think about this Mission Revival-style house? Write me a comment below.
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book review: hearst ranch