This award-wining monograph — now revised and available in an updated paperback version — helped spread Julia Morgan's fame beyond California, where her "castle" for William Randolph Hearst and her cherished Bay Area houses have long made her one of the region's best-known architects.
William Randolph Hearst's dazzling "castle" at San Simeon, California, is famous world round, yet only the aficionado can name Julia Morgan as the architect who built it. For more than thirty years she worked with Hearst in a rare collaboration, creating not only his art-filled hilltop palace but also a fairy-tale Bavarian "village" known as Wyntoon and many other commercial and domestic structures. Yet the Hearst commissions, notable as they are, are not Morgan's only claim to fame.
One of the first women to graduate in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, Morgan was the first woman ever to earn a certificate in architecture from the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Returning to her native San Francisco in 1902, she was well placed to profit from the surge of building that followed the great earthquake just four years later. A member of an informal "old-girls'" network that linked the leaders of the increasingly active women's organizations, Morgan received commissions for schools, clubs, and conference centers, including major YWCA buildings from Salt Lake City to Honolulu. Churches, hospitals, sanitariums, sororities, and shopping centers-she designed them all, in a long career notable for a total of more than 700 structures designed and built. Her light-filled houses were carefully crafted in styles ranging from Arts and Crafts to Mediterranean and sizes ranging from modest cottage to elegant mansion. Her swimming pools were voluptuous, climaxing in the two peacock-hued beauties at San Simeon.
Given the sweep of Morgan's accomplishments, it is astonishing that this is the first substantial book ever devoted to her career. Painstakingly researched for more than a decade by Sara Holmes Boutelle, founder of the Julia Morgan Association, this handsome volume lovingly documents Morgan's life and work. Letters, snapshots, working sketches, and blueprints bring the process of architecture to life, while striking photographs commissioned especially for the book record the results of Morgan's multifaceted creativity, from the china she designed for the Berkeley Women's City Club to the tiled towers and gilded ceilings at San Simeon. This is a remarkable book celebrating the achievements of a remarkable woman.