San Jose Stunner: A Historic Julia Morgan -- Designed Home Is for Sale for $3.5M

Julia Morgan made history as a pioneering female architect and left behind a stunning architectural legacy. But only one of her designs in San Jose, CA, is still standing.

Built in 1912, the historic home, which is on the market for $3.5 million, may be "one of the finest examples of a Julia Morgan design," listing agent Arthur Sharif says. "It's the most beautiful woodwork I've ever seen in any house."

Morgan, a native San Franciscan, was the first woman to receive an architecture license in California and the first woman to be admitted to the Paris Beaux-Arts School in the 1890s. However, she's probably best known as the designer of the over-the-top Hearst Castle for newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.

Morgan designed this San Jose property for another captain of industry, lumber baron James Pierce. "When he commissioned her, he picked the finest pieces of lumber from his mill," Sharif says. He describes the mansion's carvings and moldings as "museum quality." "Even the hardwood floors are just amazing," he adds.

The 6,000-square-foot home was restored to nearly its original condition by a previous owner, Sharif says. It's currently being used as office space by a recruiting firm.

Desks have been moved in, but "there was no alteration to the space," Sharif says. "The bathrooms are still bathrooms. The bedrooms are still bedrooms." The property could continue as a well-appointed office or convert back into a private residence.

The house sits on a corner lot on The Alameda. "The entry to the front of the house is designed for a stagecoach," Sharif says. "So there's a little gate that opens at a stagecoach height, so you can jump out and walk into the entrance."

Once inside, you're greeted by a grand wooden staircase, along with ornate wood wall panels and curved bay windows.

One welcome set of updates: Air conditioning, along with modern electrical and wiring. But time has stood still for the kitchen with its butler's pantry, wooden countertops, and fixtures dating to the 1960s.

"Other than that, there really isn't anything there that wouldn't have been there in 1912." He adds, "The house is very much original."