Lost Mills: A look at changing architecture on campus

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May 1, 2015

Mills Hall has seen drastic renovations, particularly in the 90s after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. (Courtesy of F.W. Olin Library)

Mills Hall has seen drastic renovations, particularly in the 90s after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. (All photos Courtesy of F.W. Olin Library)

During the strike in 1990, admission policies weren’t the only thing undergoing construction. Both the F.W. Olin Library and Mills Hall were experiencing dramatic changes.

Mills College was originally the Young Ladies’ Seminary and moved from Benicia, California to Oakland in 1871, at which point it was officially named Mills College. Mills Hall was the first building erected on campus and housed the entire school, including residence halls, classrooms and facilities.

(Courtesy of F.W. Olin Library)

According to the text of history Professor Bert Gordon’s walking tour of Mills, “Mills Hall opened on 2, August 1871, when Seminary classes began with 125 students. This building, the first west of the Mississippi to have gas lighting, was built in nine months.”

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Since then Mills Hall has become a main focal point for the school — as a place for classes, also as a great source for some ghost stories and as a beautiful building to view. After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, Mills Hall was nearly destroyed. Between 1990 and 1994, Mills Hall was renovated to bring the building up to earthquake code. The east and west wings were almost entirely torn down and reconstructed to include up-to-date safety precautions. Despite these changes, the traditional appearance of the building was largely maintained.

destruction

“Mills Hall: a building presumably erected for seminary, but with the grandeour clearly designed for a college” — from “Celebrating the Cultural Landscape Heritage of Mills College” by Vonn May, Robert Sabbatini and Karen Fiene.

Mills Hall


Lost Mills: A look at changing architecture on campus was published on May 1, 2015 in Special Issue, Special Issue 2015, Then & Now

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