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Dorothy Mulvihill gives life to women’s history

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Dorothy Mulvihill gives life to women’s history

Dorothy Mulvihill holds up a list of the buildings designed by pioneering female architect Julia Morgan – who spent decades working with the Hearst family on such projects as Hearst Castle at...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 13, 2009 3:41 a.m.
Having parents that were almost twice as old as those of her friends never bothered Dorothy Mulvihill.
Even from a young age, she realized that the two people responsible for raising her contained a wealth of knowledge from a bygone era and began to harbor a passion for history and those who played major roles in it.

Those who turned out Thursday for the Manteca Historical Society’s monthly program got a glimpse of exactly how much Mulvihill – the retired performing arts teacher whose name graces the theater at Manteca High – loves to dive into the role. Donning a black suit from a century ago and the rest of the garb of an early corporate woman, Mulvihill recited the life and times of Julia Morgan – the first woman architect that would eventually forge a relationship with the Hearst family and be responsible for the design of places like the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, the Greek Theater at UC Berkeley, and hundreds of other building that still stand today.

It was the second time that Mulvihill has performed for the Manteca Historical Society, and her love for costuming and her interest in history have helped give her a post-retirement hobby that also allows her to perform.

Being that April is Women’s History Month and Morgan helped shatter the mold by breaking the ranks of the all-male world of architecture and structural design, Mulvihill also got the chance to tell the story of a strong and determined female.

“I just find it fascinating to recognize the compounded efforts that women faced during that time,” she said following the conclusion of her presentation. “I can’t imagine facing something like that where you have to build everything up from zero with so much to overcome.”

According to Manteca Historical Museum Director Evelyn Prouty, the living history exhibits like the one that Mulvihill has put on twice (playing the role of the daughter of Stockton pioneer Captain Charles Weber) give those who attend a chance to not only learn about the person, but get a sense for what they were like.

“When we have people like Dorothy come to these programs, they’ve learned so much about the people that they’re representing – it’s almost like it’s easier for them to speak as that person,” Prouty said. “It allows the public to ask questions and interact with these people from history, and that makes it a great experience.”

The Manteca Historical Society meets on the second Thursday of every month at the Manteca Historical Museum located at 600 W. Yosemite Ave. Next month the program with feature the South San Joaquin Irrigation District which is celebrating its 100th year in May.

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