Sacramento businessman Charles Goethe proposed to Mary Louise Glide at least nine times before they married in 1903. One fabulous wedding gift was a long time in coming, as well.
In 1918, the bride's wealthy parents hired Julia Morgan of San Francisco California's first female licensed architect and, because of her later work on Hearst Castle, one of America's most eminent architects to design a $24,000 mansion at 3731 T St., in Sacramento's Elmhurst subdivision.
Six years later, the not-so-newlyweds moved into their wedding present. The house just went on the market for slightly less than $2 million; it's listed with the Polly Sanders Team of Coldwell Banker.
The Goethes owned the only Morgan-designed residence in Sacramento. Mary Goethe's mother, Lizzie Glide, also commissioned the architect's only other project in the city, the 1923 Sacramento Public Market, where the Sheraton Grand is now.
The Goethes' 7,200-square-foot Mediterranean Revival manse, now called the Julia Morgan House, is a pink stucco confection surrounded by a lush lawn and garden. Inside, the dark teak woodwork gleams handsomely, golden light fills the sunrooms, and an upstairs sleeping porch beckons the weary on summer nights fueled by Delta breezes.
It has a breathtaking entry and a grand staircase that leads up to the two bedrooms, one an enormous master suite with closets galore. The home's three original bathrooms feature decorative tiles designed by Morgan, and she likely chose the artwork hanging above two fireplaces: a replica of a 15th century Lucca della Robbia bas relief and an 18th century tapestry of grown-ups playing blindman's bluff.
All of this charm and architectural history along with incongruous modern-day additions that likely would have Morgan reaching for her smelling salts went on the market this week for $1,995,000.
The seller is University Enterprises Inc., a nonprofit auxiliary of California State University, Sacramento, to which Charles Goethe bequeathed the house and grounds upon his death in 1966. His wife died 20 years earlier.
"Selling it just makes good economic sense, good business sense," said Brigett Reilly, University Enterprises' director of property services.
After CSUS completed a $1.7 million renovation to Julia Morgan House in 2000, the university used it for off-campus programs and rented it out for weddings and receptions until 2007, when it shuttered the place for good.
The state-supported school, which is struggling with deep budget cuts, spends $40,000 annually to maintain the property and, said Reilly, would benefit from unloading it.
"The university sees (selling) the house as a temporary fix to the budget, but I think that's a little shortsighted," said retired design professor Lee Anderson, who worked on the house's five-year-long restoration.
"This is a one-of-a-kind building by one of this country's most famous woman architects, and putting it back into the private sector as a residence doesn't best suit the public," he said.
Anderson points to Pasadena's historic Gamble House as a model for what could be done with the Julia Morgan House.
Brother architects Charles and Henry Greene designed the classic 1908 bungalow for an heir to the Proctor & Gamble fortune. It is now owned by the city of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California, which opens it for regular tours and events.
"There is an opportunity here to preserve the Julia Morgan House for the public," said Anderson, who would like architecture and design students to be able to visit the house for field study. "It's something worth valuing. It's an irreplaceable legacy for the university and the community. There is just one Julia Morgan House in Sacramento."
Whoever buys the old Goethe house will get an odd hybrid of historic design and ill-advised industrial the architectural version of flip books that let kids put one animal's head on another's body.
"I was upset that they did so much that was out of character with the rest of the house," said Anderson. "We got to keep the front of the house historically intact, but the back portion is done like a Best Western."
Attached to the rear of the house are new wings on two levels, connected by a wide staircase and a wheelchair lift. The additions were slapped on during the restoration to house university off-campus programs. As a result, this nearly $2 million house has no garage, which was torn down to make way for the lower wing.
Among the other drawbacks for a potential homeowner: The modern multi-stall public bathroom in the backyard, jokingly called the Taj Ma-Potty, built to accommodate guests attending weddings and receptions; and the almost deafening din from nearby Highway 50. A big, roaring fountain does little but add to the noise. And there are just the two bedrooms, along with a small, closetless upstairs office.
Returning the property to Morgan's original design for a single-family dwelling could cost the buyer a quarter-million dollars, said Anderson.
The Julia Morgan House was known for years as the Goethe Mansion. In 2007, CSUS began to distance itself from the long-dead Goethe, a founding father of the school, because of his belief in a pseudoscience called eugenics. Its proponents believed in breeding "worthy humans" and sterilizing those deemed unworthy.
Goethe's racism overshadowed his general philanthropy. His $24 million estate was divided among 100 institutions and individuals; he left $650,000 cash and his personal papers to CSUS.
However, a few years ago, the university dropped the Goethe name from its campus arboretum and changed the name of his T Street mansion to instead honor its famous female architect.
LIFE OF A LANDMARK
1903 Sacramento businessman Charles Goethe marries Mary Glide.
1918 San Francisco architect Julia Morgan draws up plans for the couple's Mediterranean Revival-style mansion at 3731 T St. in Sacramento.
1919 William Randolph Hearst hires Morgan to design Hearst Castle on his San Simeon ranch. The project would consume Morgan's weekends for three decades.
1923 Morgan designs the Sacramento Public Market, which now houses the Sheraton Grand, 1230 J St.
1924 Goethe mansion is completed.
1966 Charles Goethe dies at 91, leaving his home, its furnishings, cash and his personal papers to now-California State University, Sacramento.
1982 Goethe House is listed on National Register of Historic Places.
2000 The $1.7 million renovation of the renamed Julia Morgan House and Gardens is completed. The university starts using it for programs and renting it out for weddings and receptions.
2007 Julia Morgan House is shuttered.
2011 CSUS continues to spend $40,000 annually to maintain the house and its gardens.
JULIA MORGAN'S OTHER DESIGNS
Julia Morgan designed more than 700 structures in California, Hawaii and Utah, including YWCAs, shopping centers, sorority houses, churches, hospitals, sanitariums and residences. In Sacramento, she designed a home for Charles and Mary Goethe and the Sacramento Public Market.
Among Morgan's commissions:
Greek Theater at the University of California, Berkeley
Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco Repaired and restored the hotel after the 1906 earthquake and fires.
Phoebe Hearst's Hacienda del Pozo de Verona, Pleasanton Remodeled and completed the estate as one of her first residential commissions.
Bell tower at Mills College, Oakland
PHearst Castle, San Simeon (now a California state park)
Wyntoon, William Randolph Hearst's estate near Mount Shasta
Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove
Los Angeles Examiner building, Los Angeles
The Gamble House in Pasadena is something of a counterpart to the Julia Morgan House: It's a National Historic Landmark operated by the University of Southern California and owned by the city of Pasadena. And it's open for public tours.
Julia Morgan's contemporaries, Charles and Henry Greene of the architectural firm Greene & Greene, designed the 1908 American Arts & Crafts bungalow and its furnishings for Procter & Gamble heir David Berry Gamble and his wife, Mary.
Sacramento has an example of a Greene brothers Craftsman bungalow: The privately owned John T. Greene House (he was no relation to the architects) at 3200 H St., built in 1925 across from McKinley Park.
John Greene was a Sacramento real estate developer.
For more on tours at Pasadena's Gamble House: www.gamblehouse.org