Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb volume on Morgan, August 25, 2007
This review is from: Julia Morgan, Architect (Paperback)
This is an outstanding book on Morgan's life and work. Well written text, detailed history, biographical information, and quality photos of the many buildings are just of few of the book's strong points. Morgan designed hundreds of buildings during her over 50-year career, and the author deserves credit for covering so many of them. Of course, she is most famous for the projects she did for Hearst, such as the "Castle" and Wyntoon, the Austrian/Bavarian style estate near Mt. Shasta in northern California, but she created many other important buildings also, which get discussed in detail in this fine volume. Also included are scans of the original plans. Out of all the books on Morgan, this one is by far the best, and well worth your time and money.

A little side note here, I've done five different tours of the Hearst Castle over the years, so have had an opportunity personally to view one of her most important works. During one of the tours, the guide said that a few years ago they had a 6.4 magnitude earthquake there, but except for a few tiles that came off here and there, the castle sustained no damage. That's because despite the delicate looking surface ornamentation, underneath the building is steel reinforced concrete, with even thicker walls than necessary. As a result, the entire Hearst Castle sustained almost no damage during the quake, and no structural damage, and the only really dramatic thing that happened was the guide said that the quake shook things violently enough so that a lot of water sloshed out of the big Neptune pool. :-)

One of the guides said some interesting things about Hearst's wealth. By the standards of the time, he was certainly very wealthy, earning $50,000 a day back in the early 30s. But compared to the most wealthy people of the day, such as Rockefeller, who made one million dollars a day, this was relatively modest. Hearst was the 42nd wealthiest man in the U.S. at the time, his father, George Hearst, being 32nd, if I remember right. He spent 9 million dollars on the Castle, approximately one half a year's earnings, so percentage-wise, it was not that much money for him. But compared to the super-wealthy of the day, such as the Morgans, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, etc, apparently it wasn't much. :-)

Back in the financial panic of 1905, J.P. Morgan, one of the wealthiest men of his time, lent the U.S. government 20 million dollars of his own money, back when that was a lot more, so it could temporarily keep operating. When Morgan died, Rockefeller commented, "He accomplished a lot for a man who wasn't that wealthy."

Anyway, just a few perhaps irrelevant comments on some of the history of the wealthiest individuals of the time. :-)
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Magellan "Magellan"
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