Abstract: Julia Morgan and the construction of Heart Castle

I am exploring how California architect Julia Morgan’s personal style and experience influenced the construction of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. By reexamining a thoroughly understood site through a different lens, one that focuses on Morgan and her personal influence rather than on Hearst himself, I will bring new insight to the site and a more holistic understanding of our past. I want to understand how this massive, impressive display of Hearst’s wealth and power is also a physical testament to the legacy of an impressive woman. Morgan’s history of creating spaces for women (like the Berkeley City Women’s Club) may reveal itself in the castle, and may bring to light how her gender influenced Hearst’s commission. I also want to understand how she navigated being the sole woman in many work situations, especially a very powerful one in the specific context of Hearst Castle.

My research will begin at the University of California, Berkeley library because Morgan attended said university and began her architectural career in the city. From that background reading and knowledge I will contact the curators of Hearst Castle themselves and explain my project and its goals. I will go to Hearst Castle and not only explore and photograph parts of the architecture and art of the building itself, but also hopefully have access to any documents that they have on site that could potentially be relevant to my research. I plan on spending a week in Berkeley and other relevant Bay Area sites that Julia Morgan designed or was influenced by, then going on to San Simeon to explore the grounds of Hearst Castle itself for the remaining week . All this while I will compile my research and assess any additional questions that may arise as I explore my topic.

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