Castle History

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The Great Earthquake hits San Francisco, which in tandem with the fire that follows, kills approximately 500 people, and renders more than 220,000 people homeless.


Henry Harrison McCloskey—a San Francisco attorney for the Ocean Shore Land Company (and Railroad)— buys a plot of land on the craggy bluffs of what is now the Sharp Park district of Pacifica, California. McCloskey hires architect Charles MacDougal to design an earthquake/fire-proof home to assuage the fears of his wife Emily McCloskey.


Though construction is not fully completed, the McCloskey family takes up residence in the castle.


Henry McCloskey dies. Emily McCloskey remains at the castle for another year until her son Paul Norton McCloskey, Sr., finishes his studies at Stanford Law School.


Emily and her son, Paul McCloskey move to a 40-acre ranch in Buttonwillow, CA and turn the keys to the castle over to Dr. Galen Richard Hickok and his wife Minerva. Dr. Hickok, a Berkeley physician, intends to use the castle as a coastal medical facility. He hires an elderly couple by the name of Miller to tend to the castle for the first few years of his ownership. He also hires Bertha Johnson as his cook. When Bertha is introduced to Mathius Anderson, the man responsible for the beautiful wood craftsmanship throughout the castle, they fall in love and marry six months later.


Dr. Hickok moves some of his belongings into the castle but continues to reside in Berkeley and practice medicine in San Francisco. One day in August of 1920, the police arrive at the castle to investigate a report by Mr. Casteel that the castle was being used as “a retreat for girls and women unwilling to become mothers”. The police are greeted by Cleo Tavis, a nurse working there at the time. Police find two under-aged girls and a Bertha Casteel— all of whom are patients.

Dr. Hickock is arrested at his Berkeley home that night and charged with performing illegal abortions. At his December trial, the jury finds him guilty in seven minutes, and he is sentenced to serve five years at San Quentin prison. The castle is passed to his son, Max, who unfortunately follows closely in his father’s footsteps and winds up in San Quentin for the same offense.


The castle is sold to M.L. Hewitt, and is used as a restaurant and a speakeasy named Chateau LaFayette. The castle is frequently raided during Prohibition.


After changing hands a few times in as many years, the castle is acquired by Clarence (Holly) Eakin and his wife Annie. They are a pious couple and become very active in the Little Brown Church. Annie hosts Red Cross events at the castle to raise money for the war effort.


The Unites States Coast Guard leases the property from the Eakins for use as a communications center and coastside barracks for “Company H”. The 17 servicemen each have their own war dog for their long coastal patrols. The dogs are housed in what is now the Talbot apartments.


The Coast Guard vacates the castle, leaving quite a bit of damage behind. The Coast Guard offers to take care of all the required repairs or pay $1,000 to cover the damages. The Eakins choose to receive $1,000 because Clarence is confident he can handle the repairs on his own.


Clarence Eakin dies in an automobile accident. Annie Eakin remains in the castle and is reported to have close to twenty cats living with her. She also takes in a number of boarders during this time.


Annie Eakins dies and leaves the castle to her nephew Howard Johnson and his wife Martha of Nebraska. The Johnsons have no interest in relocating, so they rent the castle while seeking a buyer.


The O’Brien family moves in, much to the delight of 8-year-old Joe, his siblings Doran and Brian, and cousin Ricky. His father, Pat, is a sculptor and his mother, Nora, is an artist. They enjoy many years in the castle with only a few ghostly visits.


San Francisco painting and interior decorating contractor Sam Mazza spots the castle up on the hillside while on his way to Nick’s Restaurant in Rockaway Beach. His curiosity piqued, he approaches for a closer look and finds the building surrounded by tall weeds and in need of significant repairs. Later that year, he buys the castle for about $29,000 and begins a series of much-needed repairs.

Sam never takes up residence in the castle, but spends a great deal of time there in the 43 years he owns it— building an eclectic collection of objects d’art from California and beyond. He also hosts a number of great parties, fundraisers, and community events at the castle during this time.


Sam Mazza passes peacefully at his home at the age 96. Before his death, he takes steps to ensure his estate will be used to establish a charitable foundation.


The board of directors of the Sam Mazza Foundation elects to retain the castle as the headquarters of the Sam Mazza Foundation and continue to meet there to conduct all foundation business.