Julia Morgan in Alameda

File photo    Julia Morgan and Ira Hoover designed this Tudor Revival-style home for George and Lucy Walker in 1909. This is just one of seven homes that Morgan designed in Alameda.

Part one of two

French eyebrows raised, tongues clicked and wagged. That woman was back. Dozens upon dozens of male professors and their students had wondered if she had learned her lesson — apparently she had not.

Last 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.

On Nov. 9, 1898, Oakland High School and University of California graduate Julia Morgan passed their examination, ranking 13th out of 392 candidates. She became the first woman admitted to the prestigious French architectural school. Benjamin Chaussemiche, the official architect for the city of Paris, was certainly impressed; he opened his atelier to her. Three years later, Morgan became the first female Ecole de Beaux-Arts graduate.
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 Morgan returned to the Bay Area to work for University of California, Berkeley architect John Galen Howard. She worked on projects such as the Hearst Mining Building and the Greek Theater. While there, she found a kindred spirit in Ira Wilson Hoover.
According to John Edward Powell, Hoover was an Ohio native who completed his early schooling in Toledo, where he learned furniture design and drafting. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture in 1900.
The following year he was awarded the 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 his 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.

The 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.

In 1909, Morgan & Hoover inked two commissions for homes in Alameda. They designed the first, a Bay Street home for George and Lucy Walker, in the Tudor Revival style. Census records tell us that George Walker was an investment banker. The Walkers paid the architects and builders the handsome sum of $9,755 for their home.

Morgan & Hoover’s second design is on Dayton Avenue. Alameda Museum curator George Gunn describes it as a “pseudo-English country residence.” Morgan and Hoover designed this home for Caroline and Louis Wineman, who paid a more modest $3,827 for their home. 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.

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association    Julia Morgan blazed a trail for women architects. She was the first to successfully challenge the male-dominated profession.

Next time we’ll take a look at more of Morgan’s Alameda designs and present a walk that will allow our readers to see all seven Alameda designs.