Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Castle in Pacifica?

Did you know there was a castle in Pacifica?  Yes I said Pacifica.  Check on the hillsides of Pacifica and you will see it.  Sam's Castle or McCloskey Castle if you are a purist has proudly and very securely stood on its hillside since 1908. It was built by Henry Harrison McCloskey, an attorney for the Ocean Shore Railroad for his wife Emily.  It was built as a secure haven after their home was severely damaged by the 1906 earthquake.  It was also built as a replica of the Scottish Castle where Emily spent her childhood.
After the McCloskys death the castle had a checkered past going from family home to illegal abortion clinic to Speakeasy and Bordello to private boarding house to a Coastguard communications center during world War II until 1959 when it caught the eye of Sam Mazza. Mr Mazza worked for 20th century Fox as a theatre painter and decorator.  He thought the castle would be a perfect museum of theatrical decor and could house his extensive collection of treasures.  Mr. Mazza never lived in the castle but used it to entertain and allowed worthy Charities to use it for fund raising and meetings.  Luckily for us before he died in 2002 Mr. Mazza left the castle to a charitable trust so that the building and the artifacts inside would be preserved and seen by us today. 
Why am I telling you all of this?  Because yesterday I had the great good fortune to be able to tour the castle. Twice a year the foundation with the Pacifica Historical Society open the castle for tours.
Its just a wild, weird and wonderful place with its collections of Art Deco Theatre artifacts, religious artifacts and pieces of movie costumes and sets. 
The castle has seen it all-the good and the bad.  That can definitely be felt upon entering the structure but not in an oppressive way.  Let me show you just a few more pics to tantalize you.

Rooms filled with treasures and artifacts

a suit of armor

Incredible Art Deco lamps and other fixtures

Amazing Statuary

Gargoyles and Griffins

Religious reliquaries Hundreds of years old-complete with a saint's finger bones

Dare I hope for a ghost or two?

And of course incomparable views

Intrigued yet?  I hope so.  If you are interested in touring the castle,  check out the Pacifica Historical Society's website at  They are always looking for new members and/or donations. 

And for all you artists out there-Check it out.  The place is a dream palace filled with inspiration.

Thank you Mr. Mazza!


Maria Ontiveros said...

Hi Connie,
Great pictures! I saw the sign for tours (driving Clara up to school in Pacifica these days) and thought about it.
Miss you guys,

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Thats a crazy cool castle! I can't believe after all these years I have not been. Thanks for the pictures. I must go sometime. The statues made me think of pride and prejudice :). Lis