Julia Morgan (1872-1957) was the first woman licensed to practice architecture in California. Over the course of her long career, she designed more than 700 buildings, including homes, churches, clubhouses, and commercial structures, many of them beloved Bay Area landmarks.
From the time she was 5, Morgan lived in Oakland with her family -- her parents and four siblings -- in a Victorian-style residence five blocks from City Hall. She graduated from Oakland High School in 1891 and attended UC Berkeley. She later was a student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, where again, she was the first woman to be admitted.
January 20th will mark the 142nd anniversary of her birth.
In 2009, Morgan was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, and in recent years several books have been published detailing her noteworthy career. The most recent, "Hearst Ranch, Family, Land, and Legacy," is by Victoria Kastner, official historian of San Simeon State Park, where the magical Morgan-designed Hearst Castle is the centerpiece.
The book highlights the architect's contributions to what was formerly known as the Hearst family ranch. Kastner's photos reveal a whole new side of this incredible estate, which was originally purchased in the mid-1800s by family patriarch George Hearst (1820-1891), newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst's wealthy father.
While the hilltop "La Cuesta Encantada" complex designed by Morgan during the 1920s and '30s for William Randolph Hearst is well known to visitors thanks to regularly guided tours, many other structures on the 80,000-acre property, including employee residences, warehouses and a cowboy bunkhouse, are part of the working ranch and not open to the public.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Kastner will present a slideshow of never-before-seen historic images of the ranch as well as views of the Morgan-designed structures still in use today. The venue for the program is the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., yet another creation of Morgan's.
Opened in 1930, the six-story City Club, Mediterranean/Gothic in style and located one block south of the UC Berkeley campus, was designed and under construction during the same period when the architect was working on plans for Hearst. Library history files reveal she commuted 240 miles by train on the weekends to San Simeon from her office in San Francisco so that she could directly oversee the work of the hundreds of builders and craftsmen on the massive project.
The complex includes 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways, according to the hearstcastle.org website.
Friday's program is being presented by the Landmark Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for ongoing preservation projects at the Berkeley City Club. The foundation also offers regularly scheduled tours of the club, said Mary Breunig, a board member of the foundation. "We are very excited to host this program to give Julia Morgan fans yet another glimpse of her amazing legacy," said Breunig.
For more information go to www.landmarkheritagefoundation.org.