Sam Mazza and his Castle

I’ve talked about Pacifica before and I figured it was time to talk about it again since I just discovered that Sam Mazza who owned the castle up on the hill and who died in 2001 now has his castle open to tours on the weekend by the Pacifica Historical Society.

I’ve only been able to see pictures of the inside and a few video clips from local news about the place, but I’ve never been able to actually enter Sam’s place. As it turns out Sam himself never lived there having purchased the castle in 1959 for $29,000 it was more a quirky art installation for him.

Sam was a painter who worked for theaters in the Bay Area and collected much of the stuff that in his mind was what a castle should have, swords, suits of armor, coats of arms and of course, a throne. After doing a little digging I found out the history of this castle on the hill and thought it would be interesting to share.

Built in 1908 originally by lawyer Henry H. McCloskey [grandfather of politician Pete McCloskey] it was to serve as a safe haven after the shake up in San Francisco in 1906 we all refer to as the Great Quake. When McCloskey died in 1916 it soon became of all things an abortion clinic run by a man with a history of identity theft. After his arrest his son continued the business until he also was arrested [remember back then not only was abortion illegal, but an extremely risky procedure.]

In the 20’s the castle passed to a miner from Montana who turned it into a speakeasy during prohibition with it expanding into a brothel. I’m sure the roaring 20’s roared pretty loud there since the police were regulars, but they usually entered with battering rams to try and shut the place down. Since the place kept in business even after the police kept trying to close it down I’m sure there were a few very powerful businessmen and politician probably from San Francisco who were caught in the age when they showed up. After it final closing it made a shift in the opposite direction being turned into a Red Cross station.

That would have been fine if the Eakins family which owned the castle and turned it into a Red Cross hadn’t leased it to the Coast Guard. Apparently the military folk didn’t treat the house too well and pretty much tore the place to pieces.

The castle sat in disrepair for years until Sam Mazza had a chance to realize his dream. I remember seeing him on TV once giving a tour to a field reporter for the local news. He was an unassuming guy that did what he did in the castle just because he could. One day, I’m hoping to have that ability too.

After his death he left money to start the Sam Mazza Foundation. Apparently being a painter could make you some decent money back then. Be sure to check out this site to see the slide shows of the inside and outside of the house. Oh and if you like spooky things the castle is also supposedly haunted, but how could it be a real castle without having a few ghosts walking around?

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