Julia Morgan-Designed Alameda Home On Sale
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Courtesy photo

Julia Morgan helped design the home at 1232 Bay St.

In 1909 the architectural firm of Morgan & Hoover inked a pair of commissions to design homes in Alameda. One of them was a Tudor Revival-style home on Bay Street for investment banker George Walker and his wife, Lucy. The couple paid architects Julia Morgan and Ira Wilson Hoover the handsome sum of $9,755 to design the home. Both architects had studied in Europe.

Julia Morgan graduated from Oakland High School and the University of California at Berkeley. Ira Wilson Hoover studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from the School of Architecture there in 1900.

In 1898 Morgan caused French eyebrows to raise, tongues to click and fingers to wag. Dozens upon dozens of male professors and their students had wondered if she had learned her lesson — apparently she had not. That year, she tried to break into a very masculine 250-year-old French bastion, and the masters at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts told her she was not welcome. The field of architecture was no place for a woman, they politely informed her. She ignored them all.

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Morgan became the first woman admitted to this prestigious French architectural school. Benjamin Chaussemiche, the official architect for the city of Paris, was certainly impressed; he opened his atelier to her. Morgan became the first female Ecole de Beaux-Arts graduate. On Nov. 9, 1898, Morgan passed her examination, ranking 13th out of 392 candidates.

After graduation, she stayed in Paris another year and worked for Chaussemiche; under his aegis, Morgan designed Harriet Fearing's residence in Fontainebleau. In 1902 she returned to the Bay Area to work for University of California, Berkeley architect John Galen Howard. Howard put her to work on projects that included the Hearst Mining Building and the Greek Theater.

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Another of Morgan's many architectural achievements in the East Bay is the tower at Mills College.

While working for Howard, Morgan met a kindred spirit in Ira Wilson Hoover. Writer John Edward Powell tells us that Hoover was an Ohio native who completed his early schooling in Toledo, where he learned furniture design and drafting before going on to the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1901 Hoover received the prestigious John Sewardson Memorial Traveling Scholarship in Architecture, which he used to study at the American Academy in Rome. The Eighteenth Annual Exhibition of the Architectural League of New York had exhibited Hoover's work, "Musee de Cluny," in 1903.

By 1904 Morgan had opened her own office in San Francisco. That same year she designed the handsome Mission Revival bell tower on the Mills College campus. When the 1906 earthquake destroyed her offices, she moved her practice to Oakland and formed a partnership with Hoover.

This new firm, Morgan & Hoover, designed the Carnegie Library at Mills College and St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. The firm also oversaw the structural renovation of San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, which the 1906 earthquake had rendered uninhabitable.

Morgan & Hoover also designed an Alameda home on Dayton Avenue for Caroline and Louis Wineman, who paid a more modest $3,827 for their home. Alameda Museum curator George Gunn describes it as a "pseudo- English country residence." The 1910 census lists Louis as the secretary for an insurance company and shows the couple living in the home with sons Louis Jr. and Will.

Morgan and Hoover worked with the construction firm Leard & Gates to build the Dayton Avenue home. At almost the same time, Leard & Gates were building a two-story English manor house for Abbey and Joseph Durney on the same street.

The architects turned to builders Delanoy & Randlett to build the more complex Bay Street Tudor Revival residence for the Walkers.

Among other buildings in Alameda, Delanoy & Randlett built 1336 Park St., which is currently home to Tomatina. According to Alameda Museum records, the company built this Classical Revival building in 1901 as a one-story building. A second story was added in 1902 and a rear annex in 1904. This rear annex housed the Park Theater, the city's first Vaudeville and movie theater.

The Morgan-Hoover partnership lasted four years. In 1910 Hoover decided to move to New York. When he left, Morgan changed the firm's name to Julia Morgan, Architect.

Hoover went first to Pittsburgh, and then to Chicago, where he was instrumental in designing the city's municipal pier. He moved to Europe during World War I. After the war he returned to California and settled in Los Angeles where he practiced until his death in 1941.

Morgan's contributions to the architectural landscape are nothing short of breathtaking. After parting ways with Hoover, she began designing YWCA's. In 1919 William Randolph Hearst asked her to build "something more comfortable" on his property above San Simeon. She went a bit further and designed Hearst Castle.

Her Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland and the Berkeley City Club speak to us today of her legacy. Morgan worked until 1950. Seven years after she closed her office she died in Oakland at the age of 85.

The homes on Dayton Avenue and Bay Street remain in Alameda today. They recall the architectural firm of Morgan and Hoover, a partnership that few remember.

 

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