The Santa Monica Conservancy and Annenberg Community Beach House will host a special commemoration of Julia Morgan, California’s first licensed woman architect, from 3 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 21.
Scholar Karen McNeill, Ph.D., a leading expert on the famed architect, will speak on “Julia Morgan and the Men Who Built Hearst Castle.”
Not only did Morgan design Marion Davies’ estate, swimming pool and guest house, where the Annenberg Community Beach House is now located (along PCH), she left a legacy of more than 700 projects in her nearly five decades of practice.
Morgan collaborated with William Randolph Hearst to create Hearst Castle. At San Simeon, she created two of the most breathtaking pools in America: the “Neptune pool,” considered by many architects to be “the most sumptuous swimming pool on earth,” and the indoor “Roman pool,” inspired by the Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy, which is covered in exquisite smalti glass tiles of deep blue, orange, and fused gold.
Julia Morgan was born to a wealthy family in San Francisco in 1872 and grew up in a large Victorian home in nearby Oakland, graduating from Oakland High School in 1890. She was the first woman to graduate from the engineering department of UC Berkeley (in 1894) and then the first woman to be trained at the Ecole de Beaux Art school in Paris. After graduating in 1902, she became the first woman licensed to practice architecture in California.
In 1934, Morgan told a correspondent, “I have 22 pools now in operation and have come to some quite definite conclusions.” Among those conclusions, McNeill says, is that the pools and recreational spaces were among the most important aspects of the YWCAs. The women “wanted to be free. And the clothes they had to wear—think about how freeing a pool would be even in those heavy, hot bathing costumes.”
According to one story, Hearst constantly added a new piece of ancient Greek sculpture or an entire medieval European room that he had bought. “Rather than being exhausted by Hearst’s never-ending acquisitions and ideas, she was inspired by them.”
Morgan closed her practice in 1951. She died in 1957 and was posthumously awarded the AIA’s highest honor, a Gold Medal.
Don’t miss out on this special event. RSVP today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/julia-morgan-legacy-event-2021-registration-143193289985