If She’s Good Enough for Randolph William Hearst… Julia Morgan, Architect

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan is best known as the architect who built the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California for Randolf William Hearst the newspaper magnate.   Julia was born in San Francisco, CA  in 1872 and raised in nearby Oakland just across the Bay. 

She designed over 700 buildings in her career just in California.  Throughout her career she built many buildings serving women and girls.  Many Bay Area YWCA’s are her design.

Graduating from the University of California in Berkeley with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1894, she was urged by her friend and mentor Bernard Maybeck to go to Paris to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  She was denied at first because they did not allow women.  Upon her second try she deliberately failed to make a point and the third time she passed the architecture exams and placed 13th out of 376 applicants.  She was the first woman to graduate.

She returned to Berkeley and worked on projects on campus, providing decorative elements on the Hearst Mining Building and designs for the Hearst Greek Theater.    In 1904 she opened her own office.

Many commissions followed the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.  She built many building in the Bay Area, The Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland pays homage to her. The school is the only middle school for girls in the East Bay occupying Alderwood Hall at Mills College, a 1924 design by Morgan.

She was inducted into the California  Hall of Fame by Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver on May 28, 2008 located at The California Museum of History, Women and the Arts.  Her great-niece accepted the honor.

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