Julia Morgan — Life of a bold architect



The Mount (2 Plunkett St., Lenox, MA 01240, Lenox MA)

Victoria Kastner comes to Edith Wharton’s house and gardens to share and talk about her newest book, Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography Of The Trailblazing Architect, one of the first women in architecture in America.

Born in the Bay Area in 1872, Morgan studied engineering at the University of California in Berkeley and graduated in 1894 as the first woman with a B.S. degree in civil engineering at Berkeley with honors. In 1898 she became the first woman to be admitted to the architecture program at l’École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Morgan designed more than 700 buildings in California during a long and prolific career — among them, she was the chief architect of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, and she created six buildings for Mills College in the East Bay, in Oakland, including El Campanil, believed to be the first bell tower on a United States college campus.

She is also known for the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California, a Craftsman-style building she especially enjoyed, and the large Berkeley City Club adjacent to University of California, among many others.

She pioneered the aesthetic use of reinforced concrete, a material that proved to have strong seismic performance in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, and she embraced the Arts and Crafts Movement and makers of California pottery.

draws on interviews, letters, and Morgan’s diaries, including reflections on faith, art, and her life experiences. Morgan’s friendship with Hearst, her passion for California’s landscape, her struggles with familial dementia, and her devotion to architecture reveal her to have been a singularly brilliant and determined artist.
with more than 150 archival images and full-color photographs

In its 29th year, The Mount’s annual Summer Series highlights recent books and writers in an eclectic mix incuding stories of historical figures and contemporary underrepresented voices.

“Handsome and comprehensive . . . Victoria Kastner’s words, along with Alexander Vertikoff’s photography, provide a sweeping overview of Julia Morgan’s vast, versatile body of work. You’ll want to get a hard copy of this book; e-readers don’t do justice to the photos or the layout. It’s a volume to hold in your hands and savor.” —San Francisco Chronicle

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