William Randolph Hearst tapped Julia Morgan to help him build a Mediterranean Revival palace on a hilltop in the town of San Simeon. (Francine Orr/L.A. Times via Getty Images)

Julia Morgan, California’s trailblazing female architect

Julia Morgan, born in Oakland in 1872, was the first woman licensed to practice architecture in California. She designed more than 700 buildings of almost every type, including one of California’s grandest structures: Hearst Castle.

By the time of her death in 1957, her Beaux-Arts background was being overshadowed by the rise of Modernism. But reappraisals of her work have placed her among the greatest American architects. In 2014, the American Institute of Architects posthumously awarded Morgan its Gold Medal, one of the profession’s highest honors. She’s the first woman to receive it.

“Now that we are taking off our blinders,” the architect Denise Scott Brown wrote, “we can see Morgan’s greatness.” Cal Poly | Architect magazine

Below, see a selection of archival photos of Julia Morgan.

Julia Morgan, circa 1900. (California Polytechnic State University)
Julia Morgan in her Paris apartment, 1898. (California Polytechnic State University)
Julia Morgan while a student at U.C. Berkeley, circa 1890.
Julia Morgan in San Simeon, the site of Hearst Castle, circa 1929. (California Polytechnic State University)
Julia Morgan in Paris in 1899. (UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design Archives)

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