Julia Morgan Hall’s new UC Botanical Garden party place

Julia Morgan Hall

Julia Morgan Hall’s new UC Botanical Garden party place

Julia Morgan would probably be pleased. The hall that the UC Berkeley alumna and celebrated architect designed in 1911 to host social events for Berkeley’s female students has been painstakingly restored, and is opening for business at its new home at the UC Botanical Garden.

Already it has been booked for a half-dozen weddings and about the same number of other special events.

Close to 100 people, from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Garden director Paul Licht to garden volunteers and others, turned out Tuesday afternoon for a dedication ceremony for what is now called Julia Morgan Hall.

Dirks and Licht presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony during which the chancellor said the rustic structure “looks like it was built for this spot on the hill.”

Julia Morgan Hall, previously known as Girton Hall, has had a few different homes and purposes on campus over the years. In January, the building was moved up the hill from a spot near the Haas School of Business, where it had served as a childcare center.

UC Botanical Garden Director Paul Licht and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks join hands for the official ribbon cutting for Julia Morgan Hall.

UC Botanical Garden Director Paul Licht and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks join hands for the official ribbon cutting for Julia Morgan Hall. (UC Berkeley photos by Hulda Nelson)

“It was designed to be a social hall, for events like this,” said Licht.

“Let’s hope this will be its last move,” said Licht, who is awaiting the go-ahead to finish up the move and restoration project with extensive landscaping during the cool and hopefully wet winter months.

The small building features built-in benches lining its perimeter, an open and vaulted ceiling with wood trusses, a monumental brick fireplace that has been recreated, native materials such as unpainted redwood, and simple detailing characteristic of Morgan. A small room off to the side was once a sun porch.

JuliaMorganDecidationDeck

Guests gather on the deck on the west side of the hall, overlooking Strawberry Canyon.

A deck on the west side of the building overlooks Strawberry Canyon and San Francisco Bay.

The building is the only campus structure completely designed by Julia Morgan, who earned a mechanical engineering degree at Berkeley. When she was here, women were not admitted to the architecture program. That didn’t stop Morgan from pursuing an architectural career for which she received, posthumously, the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal just last year. She did pursue architecture training at the Beaux-arts de Paris, l’école nationale supérieure, and was the first woman to enter that program. One of her most famous buildings is Hearst Castle, near San Simeon on California’s Central Coast.

Those involved in bringing Julia Morgan Hall back to life included Burton Edwards of Siegel & Strain Architects; Randy Griffin of James R. Griffin Construction; Thomas Lefler of UC Berkeley’s Capital Projects; and Ron Lutzko & Associates landscape architects.

The garden has established an endowment fund to support the future care of the building and its surroundings. So far, it has raised about $700,000 toward a $1 million goal.

For booking information, click here.

Also: Read a NewsCenter report on the move of Julia Morgan Hall in January 2014.