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Boutelle, Sara

    Full Name: Boutelle, Sara Holmes

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 29 January 1909

    Date Died: 26 May 1999

    Place Born: Aberdeen, Brown, SD, USA

    Place Died: Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre)

    Career(s): art historians

    Institution(s): The Brearley School


    Architectural historian and early scholar of female architects who produced the major study of Julia Morgan. Sara Boutelle graduated from Mount Holyoke College. Her education also included the Sorbonne Université and Universität Hamburg. She taught art and architecture at a private all-girls school in New York City, the Brearley School, until her retirement in 1973. During a pleasure visit to the castle-mansion of W. R. Hearst (1863-1951) near San Simeon, CA, Boutelle discovered the building’s female architect had been identified only as Hearst’s private secretary. Julia Morgan (1872-1957), a pioneering architect and the first woman licensed to practice architecture in California, conceived the Hearst Castle. Frustrated by the negligence of the state in identifying the work of Morgan and other female architects, Boutelle subsequently moved to California and began reconstructing Morgan’s legacy. During this time, she published book reviews in the AIA journal. In 1988, Boutelle published her biography, Julia Morgan, Architect, which revealed Morgan’s life and architectural production and reflected the rise of female architects at the beginning of the century. The book won the California Book Award Silver Medal in 1989. Following the success of her book, Boutelle lectured at UC Santa Cruz and contributed to architectural preservation in Santa Cruz. Affirming Boutelle’s dedication as a historian, lecturer, and preservationist, the American Institute of Architects made Boutelle an honorary member, the highest award given to a non-architect in 1991. Boutelle died in Santa Cruz, California, in 1999.

    Selected Bibliography

    • “Architecture of the Nineteenth Century in Europe.” Architecture: The AIA Journal, no. 9 (September 1984): 93–94;
    • “Renaissance Paris: Architecture and Growth, 1475-1600.” Architecture: The AIA Journal, no. 9 (September 1985):161;
    • Julia Morgan, Architect. New York: Abbeville Press, 1995.


    • Boutelle, Sara Holmes. “Morgan, Julia (1872-1957), architect.” American National Biography. 1 Feb. 2000;
    • Honan, William. “Sara Boutelle, Architectural Historian, 90.” New York Times, 1999;
    • Roth, Leland M. “Julia Morgan, Architect by Sara Holmes Boutelle.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 48, no. 3 (1989): 297–99;
    • Sara Holmes Boutelle Papers, Online Archive of California.


    Contributors: Siyu Chen


    Siyu Chen. "Boutelle, Sara." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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