Sidney D. Gamble Lecture Series: Esther McCoy: Piecing Together L.A. v

Author Susan Morgan discusses the 60-year career of influential architectural writer on April 29, 2014; tour of the Esther McCoy Collection on May 3, 2014

Esther McCoy at her drafting board, mid-1940s. Courtesy of Esther McCoy Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution 

PASADENA, CA – In the 1950s, no one was writing about California (much less Los Angeles) architecture. Critics didn’t take California architecture seriously and thought nothing of value would come from the Golden State.


But then Esther McCoy proved them all wrong.


For “Esther McCoy: Piecing Together L.A.” on April 29, 2014, writer Susan Morgan presents a discussion on the life, times and work of McCoy and her groundbreaking (and now classic book) Five California Architects which changed the world’s impression of the West Coast.


“McCoy’s book and her writings made everyone sit up and take notice of what was happening in California and Los Angeles,” says Morgan “She put West Coast Modern architecture on the map.”


Through her 60-year career, McCoy wore many hats: she was author, lecturer, screenwriter, architectural preservationist and exhibition curator. Morgan points out that McCoy’s life parallels the changing times; her life charted the progressive edge of American idealism from the utopian spirit of Jazz Age Greenwich Village through the radical evolution of post-war architecture. In addition, McCoy was also an authority on Mexican and Italian architecture of the period as well.


A companion tour of the Ester McCoy Collection at the Greene and Greene Archives is slated for May 3, 2014. Visitors will be able to view McCoy’s library that includes more than 500 books, periodicals and rare and unusual examples of architectural publications of the times. Highlights of this collection are the many personal autographs and author dedications to McCoy which illustrates her numerous friendships and influence in the architectural world.


 “Esther McCoy: Piecing Together L.A.” takes place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at the Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena CA 91103. Lecture tickets are $30 per person, $25 for FOGH members. Because of the limited seating, reservations are recommended.

 “The Esther McCoy Collection” is on May 3, 2014 with tour times at 10 and 11:30 am. Tour details will be announced to ticketholders only. $25, $20 for FOGH members. To purchase tickets for lecture and/or tour, visit



Esther McCoy: Piecing Together L.A., 7 p.m., April 29, 2014, the Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena. Author Susan Morgan discusses the life and work of one of the influential writers of the early 20th Century who ignited the public awareness of California (and Los Angeles) as an architectural mecca. $30, $25 FOGH. A companion tour of “The Esther McCoy Collection” is on May 3 with tour times of 10 and 11:30 a.m. For tickets and more information, visit

About Susan Morgan

Susan has written extensively about art, design and cultural biography. Her book Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader published in 2012 was the first anthology about McCoy. With support from the Graham Foundation, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution, Morgan is currently researching the life and work of McCoy. She’s a contributing editor for Aperture and, a collective online art journal and archive.


About the Friends of the Gamble House (FOGH)

A support group of the University of Southern California, the FOGH is composed of individuals, corporations and organizations dedicated to the financial support of the Gamble House. Membership fees and Friends-sponsored events help fund the education and restoration programs of the Gamble House.


About the Gamble House

Built in 1908, the Gamble House is the most complete and best-preserved example of the work of renowned Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene. The Gamble House is an internationally recognized National Historic Landmark, in the style of the American Arts and Crafts movement. The Gamble House is owned by the City of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California School of Architecture.


The Gamble House is open for public, docent-led, one-hour tours Thursday through Sunday, noon – 3:00 p.m. and for specialty tours and programs, closed on national holidays. For more information please visit


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