Public Perception of La Cuesta Encantada
Running a media empire, Hearst new the power of the press and used it often. Thesocial history of the ranch included the powerful and famous of the day includingWinston Churchill, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin and Calvin Coolidge. Along with thispower to run the media and public perceptions comes those who wish to compete withthat power and have their own.In 1940, Orson Welles released his controversial movie,
. The movie is awonderful piece of filmmaking. It is also an attack on the perception of who WilliamRandolph Hearst was. While not factual and certainly inflammatory, the image ofCharles Foster Kane in the movie is what many of the day were led to believe was thetrue history of William Randolph Hearst. In it, Kane is portrayed as a megalomaniacwho builds a folly of a castle on a hill in Florida where he lives in seclusion with hismistress. He dies in his empty castle, alone.The irony of the film is that it is how many people still today perceive William RandolphHearst and his Ranch. The man who is credited with the invention of yellow journalism,investigative reporting and news sensationalism was himself defined by that samemedia through a film that redefined who he was. The public still calls the place HearstCastle.
Donation to California State Parks
William Randolph Hearst dies in 1951. He is not alone and he is not at the Ranch asKane is at Xanadu in
. In fact, Hearst had last visited San Simeon in 1947.After his death, the Hearst Corporation donated the hilltop and land adjacent to HighwayOne to provide for public tours of the site as a monument to Mr. Hearst and his mother,Phoebe. On June 2, 1958, the first public tours were given at Hearst Castle.Since that time, approximately 700,000 people visit Hearst Castle annually. Themission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration, and educationof the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biologicaldiversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creatingopportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.Preservation of the site for future generations is critical to achieving this mission. As apublicly funded site, there are many challenges to meeting the obligations of caring forthe historic structures, the more than 22,000 artifacts and the many acres of the culturallandscape. The staff focused on restoration efforts has developed an enormous skill setwith which to address preservation and restoration of cast stone features, marble andmosaic works, application of gold leafing and other similar techniques. The curatorialstaff is well trained in care of the site’s collections including the tapestries, furnishings,sculptures, paintings, ceilings and many other types of collection. The guide staff is wellversed in the techniques of delivering interpretive messages to the visitors in anengaging and relevant way that dispels myths, provides information and inspires in thevisitor an appreciation for the significance of the site.