Yesterday, Susan left me this comment:
“You worked at Hearst Castle? NO WAY!!!! I visited there in July 1999, was of course struck dumb by its opulence, but really only took one thing away, and that was this: it is nothing short of ABSOLUTELY TRAGIC that nobody gets to swim in that gorgeous subterranean tiled swimming pool! I seriously considered hurdling past the guides and throwing myself into its tempting blueblueblue waters, clothes, shoes and all. I sincerely hope to find a copy of that pool when I go to heaven someday. Please tell me the employees got to have pool parties after closing?!?!”
In answer to your question, Susan: you will be heartbroken to know that, indeed, no one is allowed to swim in either pool — well almost no one.
Years ago, before even I worked there (and it’s been 9 years since I worked there) there used to be a yearly party for all employees stationed at the Castle. Everyone was allowed to swim, not in your pool of dreams (the Roman Pool) but in the Neptune Pool, outdoors.
Alas, even the state of California’s extensive testing and screening process for employees cannot weed out all the trash and the maintenance staff began finding gum stuck to the statues and columns and other destructive occurrences. In addition, the Carrarra marble sculptures are not supposed to be touched because the material picks up the oils from skin. As you can imagine, they were nonetheless getting touched. So the powers that be deemed it necessary to cease the yearly pool party.
I mentioned that “almost no one” gets to swim in the pools. The one exception would be members of the Hearst family. A proviso attached to the donation of the property to the state of CA states that they may visit, and stay at, the Castle any time they wish. As far as I know various factions visit at several times during the year and they do swim in the pools.
And just as an aside, in case you should ever visit the Castle again: you would not be the first person to bum-rush the tour guides and jump into the pool. Just between you, me and the fence post, you won’t get arrested. All they do is remove you and ticket you. And if you jumped into the Roman Pool it would be at the end of the tour and you wouldn’t even miss anything. Not that I’m encouraging such antics, you know. Just an observation.