IF SHE BUILDS IT, THEY WILL COME
She was a diminutive young woman, only five feet tall, with porcelain-china facial features. But Julia was a determined dynamo who would stop at nothing to realize her dreams. A native of San Francisco, born in 1872, she always wanted to be an architect. But the school she chose didn’t offer a degree in architecture. UC Berkeley had only the next closest thing - civil engineering. So in 1894, Julia graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. She was the first women in the school’s history to be degreed in this discipline.
Julia returned to San Francisco in 1904 as one of the best-educated young architects in the world. She worked for a firm that was designing the new University of California at Berkeley Master Plan. Her contributions included the Hearst Mining Building and the Hearst Greek Theatre.
Because of her close association with the University of California for whom the Hearst family was benefactors, Julia came to know Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the mother of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. This led to her first commission in southern California. It was the design of Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner Building, his L.A. newspaper’s headquarters.
If that had been the sum of her career’s work, she would have been one of the most remarkable architects in America. But Julia Morgan wanted to give more back to her community. She set about designing purposeful buildings that would contribute to improving the lives of women and girls. With Phoebe Hearst’s support, Julia designed many YWCA facilities in California, Arizona, Utah, and Hawaii. She supervised the design and construction of many buildings on the campus of Mills College in Oakland, a school for women. This included the first reinforced concrete bell tower on the west coast. She also designed the Margaret Carnegie Library and the Ming Quong Home for Chinese Girls, which is now known as the Julia Morgan School for Girls.
If you ever visit the San Francisco Bay area, you will undoubtedly encounter one of the many architectural designs of this amazing woman. Our First Lady of Architecture - Julia Morgan.