Julia Morgan was born in 1872 in San Francisco, California. Then her family moved to Oakland, where she lived until her graduation from Oakland High School. She went to the University of California at Berkley, and in 1895, became one of the first women to graduate with a degree in Civil engineering. The architect Bernard Maybeck encouraged her to go to Paris and apply to the architectural school at the Ecole des Beaux-arts. No woman had ever been admitted there, so it took Morgan several years to convince them to accept her. In 1902, she was the first woman to get a certificate from the Ecole des Beaux-arts. After graduating, she returned to the San Francisco Bay area.
In 1904, Julia Morgan set up her architectural practice and was one of the first architects to construct buildings out of reinforced concrete. Morgan was not well known until her bell tower at Mills College withstood the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. She also became known with the reconstruction of the Fairmont Hotel after the earthquake. Morgan designed over 700 buildings including private residences and several YWCA’s. Most of her work was done around San Francisco and Berkley, California. Her most famous work is William Randolph Hearst’s palace: La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill - 1919) at San Simeon, CA. It is now a state museum.
Julia Morgan died in 1957. She is now recognized as one of the most extraordinary women in architecture.
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