We were in San Luis Obispo last month so I had the opportunity to take some photos of the Monday Club, a building I’ve known since at least the 1980s when I lived in San Luis Obispo while attending Cal Poly. Though obviously a beautiful building, it was something of a mystery to me back then. It wasn’t until I attended interior design classes at West Valley College in the early 2000s that I figured out what that building was about. I’d been to Hearst Castle, and I knew that Julia Morgan was its architect, but I didn’t really learn much else about Julia Morgan until I took ID 35B History of Furniture and Interiors with Sharon Kasser. That class was like a haven for me. I was going through a rough time back then, experiencing loss, uncertainty, and an undiagnosed tooth pain that I thought would surely drive me crazy. When it was time for Ms. Kasser’s class, I’d get a large green tea from the student center and settle in with it while the lights went dim and we enjoyed slide presentations featuring the work of not only Julia Morgan, but many other twentieth century design greats like Thonet, Mackintosh, Wright, Le Corbusier, Aalto, Eames, Saarinen, Gaudi, Gray (another woman!), Knoll (and another woman!), and more. Not only was this a much-needed respite – I felt I could live happily in this world for all the rest of my days.
Both the Monday Club and the Saratoga Foothill Club are just two of the buildings that Julia Morgan designed for women’s organizations during the early twentieth century. Could you imagine being able to purchase land and commission a building for a club in this day and age? I’m not sure what the Monday Club is currently up to, but I do know that the Saratoga Foothill Club is still quite active. In fact, the Foothill Club puts on an outstanding Memorial Day ceremony in Saratoga every year. The community is welcome to gather at the Memorial Arch for the opening of the ceremony and from there, everyone parades up Oak Street to the beautiful old Madronia Cemetery where there are speeches, music, and the placing of wreaths on the graves of veterans by local youth. We’ve probably only missed one or two of these ceremonies since we moved here because we enjoy them so much.
Isn’t it a wonderful thing that both buildings are still so lovely and well-maintained?