Roman Pool, Heart Castle

San Simeon, California | C.1935

Photo Credit: @starlesshadow

In 1919, William Randolph Hearst approached architect Julia Morgan about building a new home on his newly-inherited family ranch. Hearst, a multimillionaire publishing tycoon, and Morgan, the first licensed female architect in California, would go on to embark on a fruitful 28-year collaboration that resulted in the famous Hearst Castle. Located on the Castle grounds, built beneath the tennis courts, is the Roman Pool.

Hearst and Morgan’s collaboration has been heralded for its longevity and pioneering nature. Both visionaries in their respective fields, Hearst and Morgan’s partnership resulted in the massive and magnificent Castle complex which has 42 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 127 acres of gardens, tennis courts, a movie theater, airfield, and the swimming pools. During Hearst’s time at the castle it also boasted the world’s largest private zoo.

While construction began in 1919, work on the pool didn’t begin for eleven more years. Enchanted by the mosaics in Italy’s Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Hearst called for a similar design for the indoor pool. Morgan designed the breathtaking tiled, indoor pool which resembles Roman baths and is decorated with statues of Roman deities. The blue and orange tiles that adorn the Pool from floor to ceiling are called “smalti” and are fused with gold inside, creating a shimmering effect.

At the height of its popularity in the 1930s, countless scions of early 20th century America visited the Castle. From Hollywood stars to American Presidents, the country’s cultural and political elite partied and paraded through the Castle’s halls. The Roman Pool remained mostly untouched due to its tucked-away location on the grounds. In 1951, Hearst passed away and his family gifted the Castle to the State of California, where it now operates as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument.

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