18 October 2012

Julia Morgan, Architect to Town & Gown

Swimming pool, Berkeley City Club (photo: Daniella Thompson)

In conjunction with the statewide Julia Morgan 2012 Festival, BAHA presents a tour of the architect’s houses designed for Berkeley’s professional and intellectual society, as well as buildings for Berkeley institutions and organizations.

Sunday, 18 November 2012
Noon to 4 pm
$25 general admission; $20 BAHA members

Order tickets online or use the ticket order form to order by mail.

Call (510) 841-2242 or e-mail BAHA to volunteer at the tour or the reception.

Although Julia Morgan grew up in Oakland and lived most of her adult life in San Francisco, Berkeley may justly claim her as an adopted daughter. She attended the University of California, graduating with a Civil Engineering degree in the class of 1894. She was the only woman who attended Bernard Maybeck’s independent course in architectural design, which also included future luminaries Harvey Wiley Corbett, Edward H. Bennett, Lewis P. Hobart, John Bakewell, Jr., Arthur Brown, Jr., G. Albert Lansburgh, and Loring P. Rixford. After four years of studying at the École de Beaux-Arts in Paris and becoming the first woman to earn a certificate there, Miss Morgan returned to the Bay Area, working first for John Galen Howard, the new Supervising Architect for the University of California. In 1904, she opened her own architectural firm, eventually executing some 700 commissions, making her one of the leading designers of her era and California’s first great woman architect.

Much of her work—both residential and institutional—is concentrated in Berkeley. There are clusters of distinguished Julia Morgan residences throughout town and some of her best non-residential commissions, from clubhouses to churches, are on or near the University of California campus.

In coordination with the statewide Julia Morgan 2012 celebration, U.C. Berkeley, and the Landmark Heritage Foundation, BAHA presents a special Fall tour that will sample several Julia Morgan buildings in different styles and uses.

The tour will include several private residences designed by Miss Morgan—now student living groups or utilized for offices, but all retaining much of their original interior and exterior character. There will be an opportunity to view the interior of two of the architect’s buildings on the Berkeley campus, including portions of the large and lavish Hearst Gymnasium for Women (a collaboration with Maybeck) and Girton Hall (Senior Women’s Hall), a small, rustic, lodge that she designed gratis for the women students of the campus a century ago.

Off campus, the Berkeley City Club, Julia Morgan’s local masterpiece, will be open to tour-goers. A reception will be held at tour headquarters, BAHA’s McCreary-Greer House, where a Julia Morgan-designed library table will be on view.

The tour also provides a convenient opportunity to view a special exhibit on Julia Morgan, displayed on campus and organized by the Environmental Design Archives. The tour booklet will include a list of other Julia Morgan designs that remain in the South Campus neighborhood, from modest speculative homes to lavish residences, to a grand religious seminary, a notable brown-shingle church, one of the architect’s rare commercial buildings, and even an apartment house of her design. As a bonus for tourgoers, a gem of a building designed by Walter T. Steilberg, an early associate of Julia Morgan, will be open on the tour.


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