Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Walk at Mill's

One of Oakland's Many Treasures

I grew up in probably the most misunderstood city in California - Oakland.

And while no less than Gertrude Stein and The Simpson's have delighted in making it the butt of their jokes,  I will always love Oakland and the entire East Bay.

Last week I went back and took a quiet walk with Miss "M" among the lush 135 acre campus of Mill's College in Oakland. Mill's is a women's college founded in 1852. And according to the 2011 US News Best Colleges it ranks number 4 among Tier 1 regional universities in the West. Pretty heady for a private college with less than a thousand undergraduates.

As a child a friend's father was a professor at Mill's - so we'd visit his lab and explore the campus. I loved its groves of fragrant eucalyptus trees and beautiful assemblage of architecture by Julia Morgan. There is no question the latter helped confirm me in my desire to become an architect.

When a friend graduated from Mill's years later I witnessed the bestowing of an honorary degree on the pioneering photographer Imogen Cunnigham and listened to a commencement speech delivered by Maya Angelou. There are few times in my life when, in the space of a single day, I have been in the presence of two of America's living treasures.

Now almost 40 years later, I wanted to see how Mill's looked.

Well, it has lost a lot of its eucalyptus trees*, but it has never looked better.

Julia Morgan's Masterpiece - The 1904 El Campenil 
(The First Reinforced Concrete Structure West of the Mississippi
Still Chimes Faithfully)

It still echoes with the bells from El Campenil. Its main entry Richards Road is still tree lined. Mill's Hall, its magnificent Victorian, has been carefully seismically stabilized, and it offers some wonderful new buildings like the Lokey Graduate School of Business.

Richards Road

Mill's Hall From the Oval

Our walk included a stop at the bright little Tea Room for some wonderful coffee and a great turkey and ricotta sandwich. We also ventured back to the Aron Arts Center. This was the area that borders the MacArthur Freeway which was just being built when I was a kid. Back then they weren't sure how the freeway would impact the campus and this area was in disrepair. Today it is lovely.

The Aron Arts Center

The Art Museum

Building Detail

Lobby of Littlefield Hall

The New Uber Green Lokey Building

Mill's is still a special place for a very lucky few.

It is an Oakland treasure. 

It is a California treasure. 

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

*I know they burn like SOB's, are dirty, are not native, and have shallow roots - but I still miss these big old Australian transplants. 

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