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Hearst Castle is enchanting, even in miniature

With some help, DeRoy Jensen spent several years building this scale model of Hearst Castle’s La Casa Grande. It is a complete replica from the basement to the towers and can be disassembled floor by floor to reveal identifying information inside.
With some help, DeRoy Jensen spent several years building this scale model of Hearst Castle’s La Casa Grande. It is a complete replica from the basement to the towers and can be disassembled floor by floor to reveal identifying information inside. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

There will soon be two La Casa Grande main houses at Hearst Castle — the lavish, 115-room, 68,500-square-foot mansion envisioned by media magnate William Randolph Hearst and designed by architect Julia Morgan, and a scale training model just 1/192nd the size of the original. Every 1/16th of an inch represents 1 foot.

Castle landscape architects DeRoy Jensen of Cambria and Tom Craig of Cayucos began the 38-section model in 2005. Jensen completed the model after he retired in 2010.

The model, which is expected to be delivered to the Castle by Friday, is intended as a learning tool for guides, security staffers and firefighters — anyone who needs to understand what’s where and how to get there, Jensen said.

The replica includes every Casa Grande room and even the basement. Materials range from tropical plywood to Popsicle sticks, head pins, handmade teak trim and scraps of screening from a discarded Castle window covering. Some tiny paintings dot selected walls; flags hang in the refectory dining room; and two human mini-dolls, less than a half-inch tall, give scale to the model on its 3-foot-square platform.

The model will also help artisans doing restoration at the Castle and staffers planning for repairs, as well as school groups, Cal Poly students and researchers, according to Nick Franco, superintendent of the State Park district that includes the Castle.

Morgan and Hearst “worked tirelessly to design and build the castle, leaving behind many drawings of what was planned, but left no actual as-built plans,” Franco wrote in an email. “So a model can help us when working with restoration architects and contractors to plan efficient ways of getting work done.”

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