3: Collaborator: Walter Steilberg

If Maybeck was a mentor, Walter Steilberg was Morgan’s mentee.  Upon graduation from UC Berkeley with a degree in Architecture, he worked as a draftsman before being hired by Morgan in 1910.  He spent a decade working for her. She habitually continued working with the same people once she found them reliable, and Steilberg remained one of her chief engineers throughout her practice. He later went on to become an expert in seismic architectural and engineering issues.[1] His recollections about working in Morgan’s office and with her on various projects are quoted extensively in Sara Boutelle’s biography of Morgan

This panel contains his resume, and drawings relating to moving the St. Theresa of Ovila Monastery from Spain to San Francisco.  Some of his writings about Morgan appear on the plinth. W.R. Hearst planned for this monastery to become a Medieval European art museum for the city, a West Coast answer to Rockefeller’s Cloisters in New York City.  Hearst gave the monastery to city of San Francisco in 1941. [2] However, the crates holding all the stones were damaged by fires in 1941-42.  Morgan and Steilberg painstakingly relabeled everything, but the crates were consumed by fires again in the 1950s, partially destroying their contents.  Finally, funds ran out, the city was unable and unwilling to continue, and the project never came to fruition.  The central door of the chapel was installed in one end of the (old) deYoung Museum’s Hearst Court. The rest of the stones have been used for various purposes, such as building retaining walls, in Golden Gate Park.[3]


[1] Boutelle, 45-46

[2] Coffman, Taylor, Building for Hearst and Morgan: Voices from the George Loorz Papers (Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills Books, 2003) 458

[3]Clements, Jr., Robert M, William Randolph Hearst’s Monastery, American Heritage (32) April-May 1981 p. 59