Julia Morgan


In 1912 Phoebe Apperson Hearst donated thirty acres of coastline at Pacific Grove (near Monterey) for the site of a YWCA summer conference center. She also recommended Julia Morgan as the architect. (This commission initiated the connection with the YWCA which lasted throughout her career.) As a result of a contest among YWCA members, the name "Asilomar" was chosen--the joining of two Spanish words meaning a "refuge by the sea."

Julia Morgan was involved in this project over many years, both before and after World War One. She did the site plan for the buildings and roads as well as designing a stone entrance gate, an administration building, a dining hall, a chapel, housing for both guests and employees, and a large auditorium. All these buildings were made of local stone and redwood, which helps to integrate the buildings with the surroundings. In addition, most of the buildings have a strong sense of horizontality which connects them with the dunes and the local landscape.

These qualities are associated with the Craftsman style, a style also evident in Morgan's early houses. Many of the buildings at Asilomar have projecting eaves and low pitched roofs, porches, grouped casements, sloping (battered) foundations, and use honest local materials--split wood shingles, for example.

As Boutelle notes, "Asilomar is perhaps the largest institutional complex ever built in the Art and Crafts style. A California State monument since 1958, it is still being used as a conference center and is one of the two most profitable units in the state park system, San Simeon being the other" (95).

Buildings at Asilomar include:
Phoebe Apperson Hearst Administration Building
The Chapel
Employees housing (Hilltop Cottage and Tide Inn)
The Lodge and Scripps Lodge
Merrill Hall

Work Cited: Boutelle, Sara Holmes. Julia Morgan Architect. Revised and updated edition. New York: Abbeville Press, 1995.

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