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Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan, Architect [1872-1957]

Julia Morgan was born in San Francisco in 1872 and raised across the bay in the then affluent suburb of Oakland. She enrolled in the University of California in 1890, where she was one of few women who majored in Civil Engineering. A lifelong friendship, mentorship, and professional partnership began during her junior year, when Morgan met and studied under the young and eccentric architect and professor, Bernard Maybeck. After graduating with honors in 1894, Morgan collaborated with Maybeck, who encouraged her to study at his alma mater, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Six years later she returned to California, the first woman to earn a degree in architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and soon found work with John Galen Howard.

In 1904 she set up her own business in the carriage house of her parents' home. By 1905, she had moved her practice to San Francisco, and from 1907 until her final retirement in 1951, Morgan located her practice in the Merchants Exchange Building in San Francisco. Apart from a short-lived partnership with Ira Hoover, she retained sole ownership of and authority over her architectural practice, which was one of the most prolific in the region. Though William Randolph Hearst's estate near San Simeon remains Morgan's most famous commission, she built her practice on the hundreds of houses and dozens of clubs, charities, schools, and other organizations of an extensive and influential women's network. Julia Morgan died in San Francisco in 1957.

† Janice Thomas and Fredrica Drotos, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, Panoramic Hill, Alameda California, nomination document, 2004, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.