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Santa Monica to Celebrate Julia Morgan's Legacy


Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Lookout Staff

February 7, 2024 -- The legacy of Julia Morgan -- California's first licensed female architect -- will be celebrated next month at the guest house and pool she designed in Santa Monica.

The City and the Santa Monica Conservancy will co-host the annual Julia Morgan Legacy Day on Sunday, March 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Annenberg Community Beach House. (Free RSVP available at: Julia Morgan Legacy Event.)

Marion Davies Santa Monica Beach estate
Marion Davies Santa Monica Beach estate (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

The beach house and pool are what remain of the 110-room mansion Morgan designed for legendary publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who gifted it to his mistress, silent movie actress Marion Davies.

Morgan would design more than 700 buildings, including the legendary Hearst Castle in San Simeon and was posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architect’s highest honor, a Gold Medal.

During the free event, Morgan expert Karen McNeill, Ph.D, will give a presentation, “Julia Morgan: Engineering a Legacy,” highlighting the architect’s engineering expertise, event organizers said.

"The presentation will expand on Morgan's training as a civil engineer, including how her studies of innovative structural techniques in Paris informed her creative architectural designs," organizers said.

Attendees will be invited to tour and view the guest house and beach house pool that provide a glimpse of the lavish estate on PCH that once hosted Hollywood's biggest legends.

The guest list for the costume parties Davies threw at the mansion included Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Gloria Swanson and Clark Gable.

Davies sold the 1929 mansion -- which had 37 fireplaces, 55 bathrooms, gardens and tennis courts -- in the 1940s, and it was later bought by the State and leased first to the City, then to the Sand and Sea Hotel.

After the hotel flopped, the property became the private, members-only Sand and Sea Club, which closed in 1991.

After Santa Monica voters rejected a plan to turn the property into a high-end hotel, the former mansion sat empty and was red tagged after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

The structures remained shuttered for a decade, but in 2005 “TV Guide” heiress Wallis Annenberg donated $21 million to fund a joint city and state plan to turn the property into a beachfront community center.

In 2009, the Annenberg Community Beach House opened to the public.

Early arrival for the free event is recommended. Unclaimed reservations will be released approximately 15 minutes before the program starts.

If unable to attend, please call Guest Services at (310) 458-4904 or via email at For more information, visit

The Annenberg Community Beach House is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant. For disability related accommodations, call Guest Services.

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