Julia Morgan: California’s First Female Architect

Picture19Julia Morgan has been an inspirational talent in my design career since I was given the amazing opportunity to work on a project at the one and only Julia Morgan design house in Sacramento in 2000. The gorgeous historic home designed in 1918 breathes nostalgia back into Sacramento, has been owned by Sacramento State University since the 1960’s. Through research I knew the pioneering spirit of Julia Morgan. She was the first female licensed architect in California and she achieved this by receiving a degree from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she was the first female admitted as well. I thought it only fitting to pay homage to this remarkable woman by making a pilgrimage through the streets of Paris to see the school she attended and the places she lived.

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During Julia’s five years in Paris she inhabited three apartments throughout the 6th androssiment. The first apartment was located at 4 Rue de la Chevereuse. The crisp white of the facade is contrasted by the large black paneled doors of the entry. Today the building is used as a satellite of Columbia University and works to establish partnerships between America and European scholars.  During Julia Morgan’s time the building housed American students pursuing their degrees in Paris.

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Julia’s second apartment was located at 7 Rue Honore Chevalier. This building which was constructed in 1891 would have been less than a decade old when Julia Morgan lived in it. The rustic brick mixed with iron work exemplifies classic French architecture.

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The third apartment Julia lived in was 15 Rue Guenegaud. The high gloss rich emerald green doors are flanked by tiny boutiques on the street level with apartments on the three floors above. This apartment is the closest to the school of the three and is within close proximity to La Siene river. I imagine this was Julia’s most treasured apartment during her stay in Paris.

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After leaving Julia’s third apartment I journeyed to Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts where Julia received her degree in Architecture. Just beyond the gates to the school you are greeted by ancient architectural ruins displayed in the courtyard.

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The grand courtyard transitions students and guests from the street and into the glass ceiling space of an interior courtyard.

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The colors and motifs of this space are inspired by Pompeian architecture.

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As I was walking up to the front gate of the school I was delighted to see three architecture students, two of which female, with projects in tow. I talked briefly with these students and was truly inspired to see young and eager designers pursuing their passions.

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My adventurous spirit was stimulated as I followed in the footsteps of the inspirational talent, Julia Morgan. With Julia Morgan’s legacy of over 700 designed buildings in California and her treasured design located on our T St. here in Sacramento, her designs will be forever remembered as harmoniously classic architecture.

“My buildings will speak for themselves” Julia Morgan

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Julia Morgan: California’s First Female Architect

  1. I love the doors in Paris!

    I just shot a job in Vallejo, the Temple Art Lofts, and its about 4 blocks from another Julia Morgan house that I also have photographed at 728 Capitol St Vallejo, CA 94590. Highest point in Vallejo supposedly…google it in street view….looks like a ski chalet.

    I won’t say whats inside…but it was cool. Ask me next time you see me.

    🙂

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