Monday, April 25, 2016

Phoebe Apperson Hearst: California’s Grand Patron of Education

Hearst Grammar School, San Francisco, 1892
California Historical Society
“Think of it; nearly twelve years ago there was not a free kindergarten this side of the Rocky Mountains,” the September 6, 1890 San Francisco News Letter exuberantly reported. “To-day there are fifty-three in San Francisco, two-thirds of which are under the auspices of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association. . . . Over seven thousand children have passed through the course!”
Many of us remember our first day of kindergarten, but how many know about the woman who helped establish American kindergartens or her legacy today in our state’s education?

In her day, Phoebe Apperson Hearst was one of the nation’s wealthiest women. The widow of Senator George Hearst and mother of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Hearst directed much of the family fortune to the social uplift, care, and education of women and children.

As benefactress of educational institutions and individuals, Hearst founded the first free kindergartens in the Unites States, financed a school for the training of kindergarten teachers, established the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association and the National Congress of Mothers (a forerunner of the National Council of Parents and Teachers, known today as the PTA), and endowed scholarships for women students at the University of California at Berkeley, where—as the first woman Regent of the University of California from 1897 until her death in 1919—she played an incalculable role in the university’s development.

In this photo essay, we honor this dedicated, deeply thoughtful, caring, and forward-thinking woman who bettered society in the most fundamental of ways.
Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842–1919)
California Historical Society
“All over the world,” the editors of California’s Magazine noted in 1915, “Mrs. Hearst is known as the Lady Bountiful of California, and as the First Lady of the State.” As California’s grand patron of education, Hearst dramatically transformed and expanded all levels of education in California and the nation, from kindergarten classrooms to the University of California.
La Hacienda del Pozo de Verona, Pleasanton, California, 1900
Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Hearst called her Spanish Revival estate in Pleasanton, Alameda County, La Hacienda del Pozo de Verona (House of the Wellhead of Verona) after a fountain she imported from Verona, Italy, for her estate. Here she hosted numerous University of California functions and each spring entertained the university’s senior class. Her nephew Randolph Hearst recalled that the students “would arrive by train . . . to be met by a swarm of surreys, coaches, and automobiles, which would take them to the ranch, where they enjoyed a barbecue picnic and other entertainments as guests of the shy, smiling Mrs. Hearst.”
Officers of the National Congress of Mothers, Washington, D.C., February 17, 1897
Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1st row, 3rd from right); Letitia Green Stevenson, wife of Vice President Adlai Stevenson (1st row, 2nd from left)
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In 1897, Hearst cofounded, with Alice McLellan Birney, the National Congress of Mothers. Inspired by the kindergarten innovator Friedrich Froebel, among others, and advocating a national recognition of “the supreme importance of the child,” in February 1987 they assembled over 2,000 women in Washington, D.C., for a “mothers’ congress.” By 1899, the congress had attracted 50,000 members. Out of this assembly grew a permanent organization, the National Congress of Mothers, renamed the National Congress of Parents and Teachers after 1924 and known today as the National Parent Teacher Association.
D. Vernon, “Free Kindergartens,” San Francisco News Letter, vol. 40–41 (Sept. 6, 1890)
Courtesy of California State Library
Formerly a teacher herself, in 1879 Hearst and fellow philanthropist Mrs. Leland Stanford organized the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association, establishing free kindergartens in San Francisco’s crime-laden neighborhoods “to save the child, to rescue the helpless.” The organization incorporated in 1884. The article above summarizes a reception given by the children of the Hearst Free Kindergarten to “Mrs. George Hearst,” who served as the organization’s honorary vice-president from 1902 to 1908.

Hearst Free Kindergarten Building, No. 560 Union St., San Francisco, c. 1902
Twenty-third Annual Report of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association (1903)
At the turn of the twentieth century, Hearst financed the construction of the Hearst Free Kindergarten Building for the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association at 560 Union Street. The 3-story brick building housed the association’s offices, kindergarten classes, and the Free Normal Training School, a two-year course of study for teachers. “This is the finest kindergarten home in the world,” observed association president Emily Talbot Walker in her 1902–3 annual report. “In no other city of the United States is to be found a building equal to this in size, beauty and completeness devoted exclusively to kindergarten work.”

Children of the Latin Quarter, c. 1902
Twenty-third Annual Report of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association (1903)
As described in the association’s Twenty-third Annual Report, “The neighborhood in which the kindergarten building is located is . . . occupied chiefly by crowded tenements, which by contrast serve to heighten the beauty of the Hearst building. In this beautiful home the children of the Latin Quarter learn the lessons of obedience and self-control which later will help them to fight successfully the battle of life.” 
Kindergarten Children at Work, c. 1902
Twenty-third Annual Report of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association (1903)
Kindergarten classrooms occupied the first and second floors of the well-lit, heated, and ventilated Hearst Free Kindergarten Building. The first floor also offered a room for babies, a bathroom, a clay-modeling room, a hat-room used as a rainy-day playroom, and apartments for the janitor and his family. Flowers, plants, and musical cuckoo clock enlivened the rooms. According to association president Emily Talbot Walker “to the wee boys and girls in attendance there the kindergarten days are among the brightest that life can give.”
Classroom Showing Movable Partitions, Hearst Free Kindergarten Building, c. 1902
Twenty-third Annual Report of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association (1903)
Four classrooms were housed on the second floor of the Hearst Free Kindergarten Building. Each contained movable partitions to permit the opening of these four rooms into one. 
Directors’ Room and Normal School Class Room, c. 1902
Twenty-third Annual Report of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association (1903)
The Free Normal Training School and the directors’ room occupied the front of the building on the third floor. The school provided free instruction to young women and trained them for instruction in the association’s kindergartens. The two-year course included classes in the German educator Friedrich Froebel’s kindergarten method, educational history, childhood psychology, and kindergarten games, songs, and stories, among others. 
Post-earthquake “Schoolroom,” c. 1906
Courtesy of Phoebe A. Hearst Learning Center
After the building’s destruction in the 1906 earthquake and fire, Hearst’s son, William Randolph, constructed a redwood building at 570 Union Street. When it was sold in 1965, a portion of the proceeds were used to finance the current Phoebe A. Hearst Preschool Learning Center. The earthquake and fire destroyed a number of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association’s schools. Temporary classrooms, including barracks in the Presidio and tents in Golden Gate Park and Washington Square, were erected to replace them.
Graduating Class, Hearst School, 1911
California Historical Society
In an article she wrote for California’s Magazine, Hearst expressed her belief in the significant role women could play in California’s future. “The enfranchisement of women in California,” she wrote, “was an irresistible evolution from California experience, and it stands as a surety to coming women that they will be free to act in public affairs and in their own business and that they will be appreciated and judged just as men are in similar undertakings.” 
Women Students, University of California, Berkeley, c. 1900
Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
In 1892 Hearst funded twenty scholarships for University of California women students and in her will bequeathed a $60,000 endowment to annually fund these scholarships, later known as “Phoebes.” By 1900, nearly 60 percent of the 2,906 University of California students were women.
Hearst Domestic Industries, published in The Blue and Gold (1903)
Because many women students required financial assistance, Hearst established Hearst Domestic Industries “to afford self-help, truly the best, to women students desiring such, and at the same time to teach them the almost lost art of fine needle-work.” As one student attested in the university’s 1900–2 biennial report: “The Hearst Domestic Industries has helped a good deal. I have sewed there 16 hours a week at $.20 an hour; $12.80 a month.” 
University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, c. 1910–15
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Over a 20-year period, from 1899 to 1919, Phoebe Hearst was UC President Benjamin Ide Wheeler’s constant fundraising partner. During her years as UC Regent she funded the university’s international architectural competition for a master plan, built the Hearst Memorial Mining Building and Hearst Hall, and helped develop numerous departments, museums, and colleges. 
The International Competition for the Phoebe Hearst Architectural Plan for the University of California (1899)University of California History Digital Archives
By 1900, the “Athens of the West,” as the University of California had been called since the 1870s, began its transformation into one of the nation’s premier research universities. In 1898–99 Phoebe Hearst assisted in this grand plan by sponsoring The International Competition for the Phoebe Hearst Architectural Plan for the University of California. 
Oscar Roty (artist), Phoebe Hearst Architectural Competition Commemorative Medal
Courtesy of University Archives, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Of the 105 entries that were received for the preliminary round of the competition, eleven finalists were selected by an international jury. At Hearst’s expense, they were invited to California to see the site first-hand and resubmit their designs. During the first week of September 1899, the judges met at the Ferry Building. The first prize was awarded to Emile Bénard, but in 1901 John Galen Howard, the fourth prize winner, was selected as the university’s supervising architect. Many of the structures that are hallmarks of today’s campus—the Campanile, Sather Gate, California and Wheeler Halls—evolved out of the university’s new design concept.
Hearst Hall, University of California, Berkeley, date unknown
California Historical Society
In 1899 Phoebe Hearst hired the architect Bernard Maybeck to build a reception hall adjacent to her home at Channing and Piedmont Way, which she rented during the international competition for the campus plan. By 1901, she had donated the hall to the university as a gymnasium and social center for the women students on campus, where it was re-erected and renamed Hearst Hall for Women. A condition of the donation was the requirement for women students to take two years of physical culture classes.
Activity Area, Hearst Hall for Women on UC Berkeley Campus, 1902
Courtesy of Hearst Gymnasium Historical Collection
The opening of Hearst Hall and the establishment of required physical culture classes ushered in a new era for the involvement of women in athletics at the university. When in June 1922 Hearst Hall burned to the ground, William Randolph Hearst commissioned architects Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan to design the Hearst Gymnasium for Women. The new facility, built to accommodate 6,000 women students per week in fifteen or more different activities, opened in 1927.
Hearst Memorial Mining Building, University of California, Berkeley, 1911
California Historical Society
In 1895, as a tribute to her late husband, the mining tycoon George Hearst, Phoebe Hearst offered to fund the construction of a building for the College of Mining. Architect John Galen Howard remarked about his design: “The aim has been to give expression to the character of a College of Mining Engineer. . . . Here let it stand to tell of a virile character that struggled with Nature and rude beginnings and struggling, won.” The Hearst Memorial Mining Building, completed in 1908, and the William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre (1903) were among Howard’s first designs for the UC campus. Today they stand as among the university’s principal memorials to the Hearst family.
William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley, date unknown
California Historical Society
At Phoebe Hearst’s encouragement William Randolph Hearst agreed to fund an amphitheater. On September 24, 1903, the William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre, modeled after architecture from ancient Greece, opened with Aristophanes' "The Birds," performed in Greek.
Greek Theatre Performance, University of California, Berkeley, c. 1920
California Historical Society
The Greek Theatre earned an illustrious reputation even before its completion when President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the graduating class of 1903. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle: “In a great walled amphitheater such as has scarcely existed in the world since the memory days of Greece, one whose only roof was a perfect sky, azureous as that above Athens, President Roosevelt delivered the most striking and interesting address of his series of speeches in California.” Since then the theatre has hosted numerous legendary men and women, from Sarah Bernhardt (1906) to the Dalai Lama (2009).
Hearst Grammar School, San Francisco, 1957
California Historical Society
At Hearst’s death o on April 13, 1919, 2,000 mourners filled the streets outside Grace Cathedral for her funeral services. The governor, both state senators, San Francisco’s mayor, and UC President Wheeler were honorary pallbearers. Local courts and the state legislature adjourned for the day. The university closed. Federal flags flew at half-mast. As this image suggests, the delight of discovery and learning by American children in kindergartens around the country remains a fitting tribute to Phoebe Hearst’s memory.
Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager

This blog was written on the occasion of the California State PTA Annual Convention, May 3-7, 2016, in San Diego, and in honor of its exhibition “Meet PTA Founder Phoebe Apperson Hearst.”

Phoebe Apperson Hearst is the namesake of CHS’s educational initiative, the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Educational Fund.
Post a Comment