Sunday, September 19, 2010

Julia Morgan; Piedmont and Pasadena

 I was living in a solipsistic haze on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, California. Architect Julia Morgan and the buildings she designed were occluded by this fog, though I literally walked by them every day.

 As a kid I had taken a tour of Hearst Castle, her most famous design work. I'm sure the tour guide mentioned her name, but it was just another "fact" to forget.

Years later, I was living a mere block from the Turner Shopping Center  that she designed on Piedmont and 40th. I strolled by it many times, maybe into it as well -- though I don't remember what business resided there. At the time it was just another building to me.

 I loved walking north to the end of Piedmont past the Chapel of the Chimes,  yet another one of her works, and up into the Mountain View Cemetery.

 In fact she is buried in this famed cemetery, which on clear days offers  spectacular views of San Francisco Bay.

Ms. Morgan designed four homes on Berkeley's Piedmont Avenue and eleven in the city of Piedmont. Her YWCA Buildings are also celebrated; including the YWCA  in Pasadena, which I often drive by. Recently I was perusing a book and all of these threads of connection were belatedly revealed to me.


The Pasadena YWCA. Those awful  third floor louvered windows, probably added in the 1960s.
Buildings; coveted for functionality, beauty or investment.
Cared for or neglected.
Or a place of respite for the homeless.


Julia Morgan 1872-1957
I finally see her work after heedlessly passing it by all these years.

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