Published 4:11 pm, Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Standing in the former Examiner press room of the Hearst Building, cowboy-clad guests recently gathered at Local Edition, a newspaper-themed cocktail lounge, with Hearst Corp. Western Properties V.P. Steve Hearst to celebrate the publication of “Hearst Ranch: Family, Land and Legacy” (Abrams Books), a new book about his family’s historic lands down the coast at San Simeon.
Written by East Bay native Victoria Kastner, who’s clocked 34 years, so far, as the historian at Hearst Castle, this gorgeous 240-page hardcover details the 150-year history of the 82,000-acre ranch that surrounds the hilltop Shangri-la created by media baron (and Steve Heart’s great-grandfather) William Randolph Hearst.
“The era of Hearst Castle, when W.R. hosted amazing parties for his famous friends and Hollywood movie stars, only lasted for 28 years,” Kastner explained. “But the land was originally purchased by his father, Sen. George Hearst, in 1865. And the book details how the family has maintained this 19th century California landscape, transformed it into the 21st century and saved its open space for all of us.”
The lavish, hilltop castle became a California state park in 1957. In 1972, it was recognized as a National Historic Landmark. But the surrounding acreage remains a working cattle ranch that also produces award-wining vino.
The book’s original dedication was planned for the late Roger Lyon, a land-use attorney who was instrumental in creating the 2005 conservation easement which protected the ranch, located along the San Luis Obispo County coast, from development.
But his crucial work is detailed in Chapter 10 because the dedication was changed to honor George Hearst Jr., who died in 2012, the father of Steve Hearst and Albany (N.Y.) Times Union Publisher George Hearst III.
As the oldest grandson of W.R. Hearst and namesake of his great-grandfather who founded the ranch, this former Hearst Corp. chairman and award-winning horseman knew and loved the land like a member of his family.
“The ranch remains a love for all 63 lineal descendants who get their mail elsewhere,” Steve Hearst said. “But they still call the ranch home.”
Among cowboys and cowgals: Steve’s wife, Barbara Hearst; Stephen Barrager and his wife, Sandraline Cederwall; Jeff Johnson, publisher of the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle; Sonoma Media CEO Steve Falk and his bride, Mary Beth CerjanFalk; Hearst Corp. Director of Western Real Estate Marty Cepkauskas (also in Chapter 10 for his work on the Hearst Ranch Conservation Project) and Local Edition co-owner Brian Sheehy, who is planning his latest Future Bars project in North Beach at Jazz at Pearl’s.
After the book’s extensive research, what surprised Steve Hearst most about the history of the ranch was photography.
“The only thing very different, between 1865 and now, is the development of color film. Other than that, Hearst Ranch pretty much looks the same,” he noted with a laugh. “For 150 years, the ranch has always been about horses, grass fires, cattle, good friends and cowboys.”
Hearst Ranch: Family, Land and Legacy can be purchased by calling the Hearst Ranch Office at 805-927-4611.