Julia Morgan Papers, MS 010
This collection contains architectural drawings and plans, office records, photographs, correspondence, project files, student work, family correspondence, and personal papers from the estate of California architect Julia Morgan, who practiced in San Francisco during the first half of the twentieth century. The bulk of the collection extends from 1896, when Morgan left for Paris to study architecture at the Beaux-Arts, to 1945 when her practice began to wind down. A persistent misperception exists that she destroyed records from her fifty-year practice when she retired in 1951. In fact, she carefully preserved many original architectural drawings and other business records, which were given to California Polytechnic State University by her heirs.
The National Board of the YWCA; Earl and Wright, Consulting Engineers; Mr. and Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr.; and other donors who wish to remain anonymous have made significant additional donations to the collection, which are also included in this guide.
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- Title: Julia Morgan Papers, 1835–1958 (bulk 1896–1945)
- Collection Number: MS 010
- Creator: Morgan, Julia, 1872–1957
- Extent: 99 boxes, 25 flat file drawers, 12 tubes, 7 artifacts
Born in San Francisco, Julia Morgan (1872–1957) grew up in Oakland in a spacious Victorian house. Gifted in mathematics and encouraged in her studies by her mother, Morgan was influenced to become an architect by her mother's cousin, Pierre Le Brun, who designed an early skyscraper, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in Manhattan. In 1890, she enrolled in the undergraduate civil engineering program at the University of California at Berkeley, in part because there were no architectural schools on the West coast at that time. After graduation, Berkeley instructor and architect Bernard Maybeck recommended further study at his alma mater, L'École dex Beaux-Arts, where the curriculum was renowned for the scope and majesty of its assignments: apartment suites in palaces, art galleries, opera houses, and other opulent environments fit for lavish, if imaginary, clients. Once in Paris, Morgan failed the entrance exam twice. Morgan then learned that the faculty had failed her deli berately to discourage her admission. Eventually the faculty relented and Morgan went on to win medals for her work in mathematics, architecture, and design. She traveled throughout Europe in her free time, filling sketchbook after sketchbook with accomplished watercolors, pastels, and line drawings. In 1902, Morgan was certified by the Beaux-Arts in architecture.
Returning to California upon graduation, Morgan became the first woman licensed as an architect in California, working first for John Galen Howard on several significant University of California buildings as part of the campus master plan bankrolled by philanthropist Phoebe Apperson Hearst.
In 1904, Morgan opened her own office in San Francisco. One of her first commissions, a campanile for the Oakland campus of Mills College, withstood the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, bringing her local acclaim and new commissions, including rebuilding the earthquake-damaged Fairmont Hotel. From this point Morgan's career was assured, and her practice thrived.
Morgan designed her first YWCA building in Oakland in 1912. The next year, Morgan began work on the first of 13 buildings in the Arts & Crafts style for Asilomar, the seaside YWCA retreat near Monterey. Host to thousands of visitors since its founding in 1913, Asilomar is now a state historical park and conference center. Morgan eventually designed 28 unique YWCA buildings in fifteen cities in California, Utah and Hawaii.
Publisher William Randolph Hearst first retained Morgan in 1910 for a residence in Sausalito, but it was never built. In 1915, she completed a notable Mission Revival building for the Los Angeles Examiner, Hearst's flagship newspaper. Hearst was so delighted by the structure that he commissioned Morgan to design his legendary estate at San Simeon, situated on a crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains of central California. Known today as Hearst Castle, the estate is now a state historical monument that has attracted more than 35 million visitors since it opened to the public in 1958.
Morgan's classical Beaux-Arts training, joined with her engineering degree and expertise with reinforced concrete, made her the ideal architect for this commission, which absorbed both architect and client from 1919 to 1947. Morgan designed the main building (Casa Grande), and guesthouses ("A" "B" and "C" Houses), workers' housing, grounds and terraces, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, zoo and aviary, poultry ranch, greenhouses, warehouses, animal shelters, a five-mile pergola, and a seaside village for the estate's supervisors.
In 1930, Hearst commissioned Morgan to build a Bavarian village on the McCloud River at Wyntoon, his northern California estate, to replace his mother's Maybeck-designed castle that had recently been destroyed by fire. Other Hearst commissions documented in the collections include the unbuilt hacienda at Babicora, his million-acre ranch in Mexico; the unbuilt "Hopi" residence and unrealized plans for a hotel at the Grand Canyon; and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Memorial Women's Gymnasium at UC Berkeley. Morgan also supervised the alterations of Marion Davies' vast beach house in Santa Monica.
Through art dealers Arthur and Mildred Stapely Byne, Hearst purchased a thirteenth-century Spanish monastery in 1931. Santa Maria de Ovila was dismantled and shipped to San Francisco, where Morgan and Hearst contemplated its use at Wyntoon. When the plans were dropped for lack of funds, Morgan convinced Hearst to give the stones to the city of San Francisco for a medieval museum to rival Manhattan's Cloisters. Morgan contributed additional plans and by 1941, the city had selected a site in Golden Gate Park. After a series of arson fires at the warehouses obliterated the markings on the stones, the city lost enthusiasm for the project. This last great collaboration between Morgan and Hearst was never realized.
Historian Elinor Richey wrote, "Morgan's work was outstanding not only for its thoroughness, diversity, and volume ... but also for its stylistic innovation and influence. Her early redwood shingle houses contributed to the emergence of the Bay Area shingle style. She was also a decade ahead of most of her contemporaries in using structure as a means of architectural expression. Unlike the work of most San Francisco architects of her time, Morgan's was reflective of that being done outside the Bay area." (Richey, Eminent Women of the West, p. 501)
Despite shortages of building materials and skilled labor, Morgan remained active professionally through World War II. In 1951, she closed her San Francisco office and retired. After several years of poor health, Julia Morgan died in San Francisco in 1957 at the age of 85.
Scope and Content
Scope and Content Note
The Julia Morgan Papers contains architectural drawings and plans, office records, photographs, correspondence, project files, student work, and personal papers from the estate of Julia Morgan. The bulk of the material in this collection extends from 1896, when Morgan left for Paris to study architecture at the Beaux-Arts to 1945, when her practice began to wind down. The earliest piece in the collection is an 1835 remembrance book belonging to Julia Morgan's grandmother. Additional donors have given more than twenty-seven significant additional donations of original Morgan materials to Cal Poly, which are also included in this guide.
The collection is organized into nine series:
- Personal Papers, including family correspondence and photographs, extensive student work from the Beaux-Arts years, and travel diaries;
- Professional Papers, including awards, research notes and photographs;
- Office Records, including correspondence with clients and colleagues and contemporaneous published works on Morgan commissions;
- Project Records, including files, photographs, and drawings on residential and commercial commissions;
- San Simeon Project Records, including extensive correspondence, financial records, photographs, and drawings;
- Other Hearst Project Records, including files, photographs, and drawings for Wyntoon, the Hearst Building in San Francisco, the Los Angeles Examiner building, the Milpitas ranch near Jolon in California and Babicora ranch in Mexico, the Phoebe A. Hearst Gymnasium for Women at UC Berkeley, and the Santa Maria de Ovila monastery;
- YWCA Project Records, including files, photographs, and drawings for Asilomar and YWCA buildings in California and Hawaii;
- Art and Artifacts, including Morgan's Beaux-Arts medals, doctoral hood, and drafting table;
- Additional Donations, including extensive Morgan project files from Walter Leroy Huber, a San Francisco-based civil engineer; extensive collections of photographs and plans for Morgan's masterworks at Asilomar, San Simeon, and Wyntoon; and project files and drawings for Morgan commissions throughout California.
Large and/or significant series include Morgan family correspondence and memorabilia; travel diaries, sketchbooks and memorabilia from Morgan's educational years in Europe; honors, awards, and degrees; business records and correspondence between Morgan and Walter L. Huber, a consulting engineer; professional and business correspondence, primarily for commissions from William Randolph Hearst; photographic prints and negatives of family members, friends and various architectural commissions, including San Simeon and Wyntoon; architectural drawings and sketches for a variety of Morgan's commissions, including private residences, YWCAs and Hearst estates; and artifacts, including Morgan's architectural competition medals won at the École des Beaux-Arts, and the hood she received for her honorary doctorate from UC Berkeley.
An extensive and significant portion of the collection is the correspondence between Morgan and William Randolph Hearst, which covers twenty-six years between 1919 and 1945 and documents the design, construction and maintenance of such Hearst commissions as San Simeon, Wyntoon, several newspaper office buildings, and Hearst's Mexican ranch, Babicora. The Morgan/Hearst correspondence has been placed in the San Simeon portion of the papers, Series 5, Subseries E. However, the researcher should be reminded that most of the correspondence between Hearst and Morgan contains references to a variety of commissions or projects and therefore is found in the first series.
Note that names for complex projects, such as San Simeon and Wyntoon, usually had variant names for individual buildings. For Wyntoon, chalets in the Bavarian Village are known by multiple variant names: e.g., Cinderella House was also called Pinnacles, Angel House was also called Sleeping Beauty House or Fairy House, and Brown Bear House was Bear House or Snow White-Rose Red House. At San Simeon guesthouses had the following variants: Casa del Mar was also called A House or House A, Casa del Monte was also called B House or House B, and Casa del Sol was also called C House or House C.
Within each series the correspondence is arranged chronologically, with Hearst's letters or telegrams followed by a copy Morgan made of her reply, which is the method Morgan used to maintain her office files. Architectural drawings and business records regarding Morgan's other commissions can be found in her papers, although these materials have survived on an extremely random basis and may not be considered representative of the bulk of her life's work. Researchers interested in Morgan's commissions for clients other than Hearst should consult Series 4 Project Records and Series 7 YWCA Projects Records carefully. Folder headings for Morgan's projects files first list the building name, client name, city or county in which the structure is located, and date, if known.
Client names and construction dates may differ from Sara Holmes Boutelle's published lists and have been updated in this guide for greater accuracy. All cities and counties listed on folder headings are located in California, unless noted otherwise.