Hearst & Gamble: Stories of Collaboration

Hearst Castle

Yesterday, while on vacation in California, I had the privilege to visit the Gamble House in Pasadena.  The day before, Hearst Castle in San Simeon.  The juxtaposition of the two, whose architects were contemporaries, was startling.  Hearst spent $4.7 million building the Enchanted Hill from 1919 to 1947.  The Gambles spent $50,400 (still a small fortune for the time) on an unpretentious bungalow built in 11 months in 1908.  Hearst Castle is filled with priceless artifacts from Europe, the Gamble House a unified masterwork executed to perfection from the design for the carpets and furniture to the workbench in the garage.

What the two structures have in common is that they both respond to the mood of their occupants.  Whether contemplative, social, or just comforting–both places are masterpieces.  Hearst would fly his guests in from Los Angeles and elsewhere for lavish parties.  Lindbergh and Earhart are examples of the combinations of guests that, I’m sure, made for amazing conversations.  

While Greene & Greene are famous for the Gamble House, Julia Morgan, educated at Ecole des Beaux Arts, architect of Hearst Castle is less well known.  But perhaps most overlooked are the Hall Brothers, Swedish immigrants, who actually built the Gamble House and its furniture.  And, Emil Lange who executed the leaded glass masterpieces throughout the house.  The patience and sympathetic ear of Julia Morgan brought Hearst’s immense resources and vision to fruition.  The collaboration between architect and craftsman is the true story of the Gamble House.

Gamble House

Gamble House Front Door Fascade

Gamble House Front Door

Emil Lange Leaded Glass

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