Julia Morgan is known for being one of the first female architects born here in San Francisco. She grew up in the bay area in Oakland. She was a very small woman in size, just over 5 feet and 100 pounds. Despite her physical appearance, her character was very strong. She graduated high school in Oakland in 1890 and furthered her education at University of California Berkeley in 1894. She studied civil engineering and received her degree.
Julia Morgan was a student and friend of Bernard Maybeck, fellow architect and and resident of the bay area. Bernard Maybeck wished to see Julia's talent grow and persuaded her to apply to Ecole des Beaus-Arts in Paris. The first time Julia applied she was rejected because the school was all male and no female students were allowed to attend. She applied a second time despite her rejection and was again denied. The school claimed their reason of her rejection to be her failing the exam to enter the program. Two years later Julia took the test again, this time passing. She chose to study architecture and graduated as the first woman to recieve a degree at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Her degree read:
"Artist and Engineer; Designer of simple dwellings and stately homes, of great buildings nobly planned to further the centralized activities of her fellow citizens; Architect in whose works harmony and admirable proportions bring pleasure to the eye and peace to the mind." (http://www.usdreams.com/Morgan22.html)
After leaving Paris she returned to San Francisco, her birthplace, working for Galen Howard and friend Bernard Maybeck. John Galen Howard won a competition to design the main architectural plan for University of California Berkeley. Julia worked on details of a building on the campus called the Mining building in memory of Hearst. She also worked on drawing the elevations of the Master Plan. Morgan then moved onto the Hearst Greek Theater.
Julia Morgan left the firm and then decided to open her own office in San Francisco,
1904. She quickly became a well known and established architect in her residential area. She worked on building beautiful homes in Oakland, Clairmont and in the Piedmont hills for prominent families. Juilia had a refined, subtle and gracious style in her architecture using craft sytle, earthtones, horizontal lines, and working with materials like exposed redwood. A well known house Julia worked on is the North Star House in Grass Valley, California. She also worked on designing the El Campanil Bell tower located in Oakland. The tower is on Mills College in Oakland. The tower is famous for withstanding the earthquake in 1906.
Although the earthquake in 1906 was devastating to the city of San Francisco and the bay area, it was an amazing career opportunity for Julia Morgan. The earthquake happened just two years after she opened her own architectural firm in San Francisco. She was commissioned to reconstruct the Fairmont hotel on the top of Nob Hill after the earthquake. She also worked on building YMCA buildings in California, Utah, Hawaii, and the Asilomar Conference Center.
Morgan's most famous commission was soon to come. In 1919 William Randolph Hearst selected her to construct the Hearst Castle on a $11 million plot of land he had inherited in San Simeon, California. For the next 28 years Morgan worked on the Hearst Castle. One of her jobs was to find and purchase things like Reindeer for the castle's zoo, priceless antiques from europe and Moss from Iceland. She also helped Hearst incorporate his collection of art into all of the architectural design. Morgan designed everything in the tiniest detail. After her commission to do the Hearst Castle, Hearst also hired her to work on many more projects for him including the Examiner Building in Los Angeles. In the 1930's Mogan's work at the castle slowed due to Randoph's financial state. Julia Morgan had many other clients to work for and slowly left the castle to construct other buildings. In 1947 Randoph left the castle and Julia never returned to work on it. The castle remained incomplete.
After a successful career in architecture as a woman amongst men; Julia Morgan retired in the 1950's, then died in 1957.