Postcard. Description: Color photo litho view of buildings and grounds. Title: Hall of Science, Mills College, California. unused postcard. (G. Weininger, 6/2002) from Oakland Heritage Alliance News, Summer 1985, pp.1-5, Aaron Gallup: Founded in 1882 in Benicia as a private, non-denominational Young Ladies' Seminary, Mills College was one of the earliest educational institutions for women in California. In 1865 former missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills purchased the seminary and, within 5 years, changed its location to its present site in the Oakland foothills, where they had purchased 60 acres, and changed its name to Mills Seminary. The institution was reorganized as Mills College and chartered in 1885. By the turn of the century it was expanding to its current 127 acres of wooded campus in East Oakland. Much of the magnificent landscaping is the result of Dr. Cyrus Mills' interest in horticulture, and provides the setting for an eclectic collection of buildings representing more than 100 years of Bay Area architecture and works by many of the region's notable architects-or, as stated in a 1928 article in the Pacific Coast Architect, Mills College is "a museum of Western architectural history from 1870 to the present day": Mills Hall, an Italianate/Second Empire building by Samuel Bugbee and Sons, which is now at the heart of the campus, was completed in 1871 and originally housed the entire college. There are four major structures by Julia Morgan, vestiges of Bernard Maybeck's master plan of 1918, and buildings by Bakewell and Brown, Walter Ratcliff Jr., Clarence Mayhew, Callister and Payne, Ernest Kump, Gerald McCue and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Julia Morgan buildings include "El Campanil," across the oval from Mills Hall; the design of this bell tower, from 1903-04, began the Mediterranean design tradition prominent on the campus and was a pivotal commission in the early years of her career. Both this and her Renaissance Revival library withstood the 1906 earthquake, thus calling attention to her skill. During the following decade she also designed a gymnasium, which has been demolished, and the Alumni House, now (1985) the Student Union. Another Morgan building, formerly Ming Quong Home for Chinese orphans and a fine example of her use of exotic elements to express a building's intended purpose, was annexed in 1936 as a dormitory. Accelerated growth of the college from 1916 led to the need for a master plan, which was created by Bernard Maybeck and funded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst; however, little of the impressive Beaux Arts composition was realized. Additional dormitories were added in 1919 and 1921, designed by Bakewell and Brown. In 1922, a policy of Mediterranean design for all new construction was established, and Walter Ratcliff, Jr. was appointed campus architect and planner. After familiarizing himself with early Spanish Colonial architecture through a trip to Mexico, he designed the Art Gallery and Music Building and "hispanicized" several earlier campus buildings. During the period from the 1930s through the 1950s, the campus grew by annexation and then postwar construction that broke with the Mediterranean tradition. Ernest Kump's buildings in the late 1960s and 1971 used tiled roofs and white stucco walls to refer to that earlier tradition, but other buildings in the late 1960s and early 1970s were in modern style. The 1969 chapel by Callister and Payne reflects influences of both Japanese design and Frank Lloyd Wright. All of the college's architectural history appears to exhibit commitment to quality in design and to sensitive environmental planning.
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