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Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan finally gets a NY Times obituary — 62 years after her death

Hearst Castle Neptune Pool celebrates opening

Hearst Castle's iconic Neptune Pool celebrates reopening with a pool party including the Aquabatix synchronized swimmers and 250 guests.
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Hearst Castle's iconic Neptune Pool celebrates reopening with a pool party including the Aquabatix synchronized swimmers and 250 guests.

Julia Morgan — renowned California architect and designer of Hearst Castle — has finally gotten an obituary in the New York Times, 62 years after her death in 1957.

Morgan’s obituary appeared Wednesday as part of Overlooked, a project by the New York Times that features the obituaries of notable people whose deaths originally went unreported in the national newspaper.

It’s not the only posthumous honor Morgan has received. She was awarded the 2014 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal 57 years after her death — marking the first time the organization awarded the medal to a woman, according to Architectural Record.

Morgan was born in San Francisco and grew up in Oakland, eventually graduating with a degree in civil engineering from UC Berkeley. She was the first woman admitted to Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, according to her biography on Hearst Castle’s website.

Morgan was the first woman to obtain an architecture license in California and designed nearly 800 projects in California and Hawaii, including the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, the bell tower on the Mills College campus in Oakland, the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley and the rebuilt Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, which she redesigned after the 1906 earthquake.

Morgan is especially well known on the Central Coast, which is home to her most famous work.

Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst hired Morgan in 1919 to design his hilltop estate — which he called La Cuesta Encantada, Spanish for the Enchanted Hill — above San Simeon. She would work on the property, better known as Hearst Castle, for the next 28 years.

Morgan also designed the Monday Club in San Luis Obispo, where a production of the play based on her life, “Becoming Julia Morgan,” ran for a limited time in 2017.

“I don’t know why we didn’t learn about Julia Morgan in school,” Julia Donoho, an architect who nominated Morgan for the 2014 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, told the New York Times. “But I hope that will never happen again.”

Dan Falat, California State Parks District Superintendent said that full bus service at Hearst Castle has been restored with the signing of a new contract.

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Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.
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