Fairmont Hotel

restoration by Julia Morgan

This stately 600-room Italian Renaissance hotel was designed by James and Merritt Reid but fell victim to the 1906 earthquake and ensuing fires. Located at the summit of Nob Hill, it had been San Francisco's newest and grandest hotel. But it had been gutted by fire and had suffered structural damage. Boutelle explains: "Columns covered with wire lath and plaster were generally defective. Thirty-seven such buckled and a portion of the floor settled down about seven feet from normal position" (78-9). Julia Morgan, then only 34, received the commission for restoration and major repairs; this was her most important assignment thus far, for which she formed a partnership with Ira Hoover, a relationship that lasted for 4 years. Morgan was equipped to handle this commission since she had been the first woman graduate in the University of California's Civil Engineering program and since her early buildings at Mills College in concrete had survived the 1906 earthquake. The restored hotel opened in April of 1907, one year after the disastrous earthquake.

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