Many of you reading this blog are familiar with the name Hearst and probably the world-renowned Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Some of you had the breathtaking experience of visiting this splendid landmark. In your mind’s eye, envision the images of magnificent architecture and pools and gardens. Another structure that also conjures up a lovely image is the detailed and intricately designed Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. If one were asked to picture the architect who designed the castle and restored the hotel, most likely it would be a male figure. That assumption is incorrect. The woman who is responsible for the design of these structures and 700 more is Julia Morgan: the first woman architect in California, first woman graduate in the University of California, Berkeley civil engineering program, and the first woman permitted to attend the influential art school École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Morgan was one of the most significant architects in the early twentieth century and a trailblazer for women in civil engineering and architecture. She was a legend unto herself in California structural design history.
During the 50 years of her long and brilliant career, Morgan designed over 700 structures including the bell tower on the campus of Mills College in Oakland, a structure that withstood the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Asilomar Conference Center, hundreds of residences, churches, clubs, banks, schools, hospitals, and large retail stores. Some of her residential projects may be categorized as ultimate bungalows and express the Arts and Crafts Movement in the American Craftsman style of architecture. However, her signature commission is the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Today, the official name of the 90,080 sq. ft. estate is the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument.
The life of this amazing trailblazer, architect and visionary will be celebrated with at Julia Morgan 2012 Festival that begins on October 1st, 2012, and lasts for over six weeks, ending on November 16th. To learn more about Julia Morgan you can find her biography in my recently released book, Women Trailblazers of California: Pioneers to the Present, here and for more information on the Julia Morgan Festival, click here. Enjoy reading more about the brilliant first woman architect in California.