Major Publication Covers Marriage in San Francisco

At one time, William Randolph Hearst envisioned his paper covering far more than one marriage in San Francisco. At one time, he hoped that all five of his sons might wed in San Francisco. When he and his wife separated, however, that hope died. In fact, there is little evidence that a single marriage in San Francisco led to the birth of a Hearst grandchild there in San Francisco.

Before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many wedding receptions were held at the Fairmont Hotel. But immediately after the 1906 earthquake, not a single marriage in San Francisco could include a reception that would take place at the Fairmont Hotel. Fortunately for the people of San Francisco, Julia Morgan had opened her own architectural firm. Julia Morgan was therefore prepared to help with the redesign and rebuilding of the Fairmont Hotel.

Julia Morgan had been the first woman to earn an engineering degree from the University of California at Berkley. Julia Morgan had returned to San Francisco, following the completion of her architectural training in France. Julia Morgan supervised the rebuilding of the Fairmont Hotel. When the Fairmont had its first wedding after the earthquake, that history-making marriage in San Francisco was reported in the San Francisco Examiner.

Of course not every marriage reported by the San Francisco Examiner was a marriage in San Francisco. In fact, the paper gave front page coverage to a wedding that took place in New York City. That was the wedding that formalized the marriage of William Randolph Hearst and Millicent Willson Hearst.  When that marriage took place in 1903, William Hearst owned the San Francisco Examiner.

William Randolph Hearst was the son of George Hearst and Phoebe Asperson Hearst. While the birth of William Hearst took place in San Francisco, his parents wedding could not be recorded as a marriage in San Francisco. George Hearst had left San Francisco, and had traveled to Phoebe's mid-west home at the time of their marriage. After the marriage, the young couple rode the train to San Francisco.

Phoebe Hearst had no regrets about the fact that her wedding had not been a marriage in San Francisco. Phoebe was more concerned about publicity for the social programs that she tried to start. She was pleased when her nascent PTA got some coverage in the press. She prayed that her foreign visitor, Abdu'l-Baha, a man from Persia, could get similar coverage.

That visit came six years after the 1906 earthquake. That was six years after great damage had been done to many of the wedding dresses in San Francisco. By the time of that visit the City of San Francisco had recovered, and it had again become easy to find wedding dresses in San Francisco.

Many wealthy women wore those dresses. Many wealthy women stood in the new Fairmont Hotel, dressed in the white clothes identified with an early 20th Century marriage in San Francisco. It is possible that a daughter-in-law of William Randolph Hearst had a reception at that Hotel. The Hearst's sons had the ability to bring their father five daughters-in-law. 

Yet there was one woman who spent much time at that Hotel, but not at a wedding reception. She spent much time at the Hotel, despite never providing the Examiner with another reportable marriage in San Francisco. That woman was Julia Morgan, a woman who was married to her profession, a woman who helped to rebuild San Francisco.

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