8 & 9: Work for Women

Although not a feminist in the way the word is understood today, Morgan spent much of her career designing both public and private structures that would benefit women.

While studying at UC, she lived at Kappa Alpha Theta sorority where, “she found regular community in a group of women who encouraged and fostered intellectual achievement.”[1]  She also formed professional connections there with women who were later responsible for commissioning works from her such as Louise Goddard, Lucretia Watson (later Mrs. B. Grant Taylor), Grace Fisher Richards, Mary McLean Olney and Mary Olney Bartlett, and Elizabeth Glide. She employed women for drafting, model making, and worked with female artisans.[2]  Residences for some of these women are shown on these panels.

Interestingly, she had a number of female-commissioned projects throughout her career.  She publicly credited female clients as the driving force behind, “significant changes in the relationship between women and architecture.”[3] Many of these commissions came from unmarried women.  There is some speculation that at least one of her commissions was for a lesbian couple, and that Morgan designed for them, “purpose-built, queer, domestic architecture.” [4]  In this house for Clara Williams and Elsie Mitchell, shown above, is a shared, “…medical office, located immediately inside the front door, disguising their domestic partnership in the same way Urbach has noted that the homes of gay couples today are often purposefully camouflaged by professional partnerships…”[5]

Other work for women includes the King’s Daughters of the Golden West and the Berkeley Women’s City Club (now the Berkeley City Club), known for its exceptional tiled swimming pool. Examples of these buildings can be seen later in the exhibit.


[1] McNeill, Karen. “Julia Morgan: Gender, Architecture and Professional Style,” Pacific

Historical Review 76, no. 2 (May 2007), 233

[2] Boutelle, 84-85.

[3] McNeill,  258.

[4] Adams, Annmarie.  “Sex and the Single Building”, Buildings and Landscapes 17, no. 1 (Spring 2012), 90.

[5] Adams, 91.