Antiquities Earthquake Survey—Hearst Castle

Cambria, CA

Hearst Castle, once home of wealthy American collector William Randolph Hearst, was designed by renowned San Francisco architect Julia Morgan in 1919. Though originally constructed as a “get away” for friends and family, in 1957 the castle was donated to the people of the State of California as an historic house museum.

Complete care, maintenance, and management of the collections at the Hearst Castle is the responsibility of the California State Parks, who work closely with expert conservators to keep this historical estate preserved properly. On December 22, 2003 a 6. 5 magnitude earthquake struck the San Simeon region. Fortunately this disaster did not destroy the structural exterior of the Hearst Castle, but did leave damaged objects throughout the landmark—due to the disaster the Castle was eligible for public assistance funding.

We were commissioned by FEMA to review the site survey summary and treatment recommendations provided by California State Park conservators for the stabilization of twelve objects, developed to stabilize or reverse damage associated with the effects of the disaster. Objects were reviewed by us through a systematic procedure, which generated a comprehensive spreadsheet including descriptions of the damaged objects, recommended treatment, and budgetary analysis for each individual artifact. FEMA evaluated the assessment needs and assigned the project to the appropriate conservation team.