And then along came Sam Mazza to save Pacifica’s mysterious castle– a full time, extremely successful San Francisco painting contractor and equally successful, part time modern “Knight in Shining Armor”.
It was 1957, when, according to Sam’s brother, Angelo, who can often be found puttering in the castle’s gardens, “Sam was driving down to Nick’s Rockaway Restaurant, and he had a few fizzes and he spotted this concrete structure engulfed in weeds about six inches high. After inspecting it, he bought it for about $29,000 and flew a flag from the roof that said, ‘Sam’s White Elephant’.”
But it really wasn’t a “white elephant”. Sam saved Pacifica’s castle and the castle was good for him.
(Sadly, Mr. Sam Mazza passed away at age 94 in 2002 and the castle became a part of his estate).
It was inevitable that the painting contractor would become fascinated with the “castle’s infamous history, the edgy stories and the myths of the Prohibition years,” estate trustee Jeannette Cool said. She recalled Sam as “a real character. He had his own ways about everything, his own opinions. He was frugal but had pockets of generosity.” It all added up to what she remembered most about her charitable friend: “Sam was a charming eccentric.”
Brother Angelo filled in the family history noting that Sam was not a high school graduate but his painting business boomed in San Francisco. He had famous commissions including the reburbishing of the glamorous Fox Theater on Market Street where gold leaf columns and cherubs were painted on the high ceilings.
“It was one of the most beautiful theaters in San Francisco,” Angelo confirmed.
Most interesting–when the Mazza family arrived from Sicily in the early 20th century, they made their home on Hearst Avenue in San Francisco–and that certainly conjures up memories of William Randolph–and his super famous castle at San Simeon.
Was Sam Mazza fulfilling a matching dream by purchasing his own castle in Pacifica?
Like Hearst, Sam filled his Pacifica castle with his favorite antiques and memorabilia collected through the years–some of them from old Hollywood movie sets.
Trustee Jeannette Cool describes the main living room, which has unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, with its unusual antiques. “There’s a French Armoire with inlaid mother of pearl,” she said, “a piece of German porcelain and several antique desks and dressers.” The one piece of furniture that catches the eye of the visitor is “the kitschy ‘throne’ that Sam used for his own whimsy.”
Yes, it’s a real throne and Sam had fun asking guests to sit in the throne with a crown on their head.
Sam Mazza relished the work of restoring Pacifica’s castle to its original splendor and was happy to share that with then Congressman “Pete” McCloskey, whose grandfather had built the castle.
(Photos below: Inside the castle. courtesy Sam Mazza Estate)