Haunted Mills: Mills Hall

The most iconic buildings on Mills campus is, of course, also the most haunted. Mills Hall, the tall, stately building standing in front of the wide lawn where graduations are held each spring, has a long history: it has been the center of campus life since the college moved to this campus in 1871, and became a California Historical Landmark in 1971. Although it is now home to offices and classrooms, the school was once much smaller, and it was the focus of its students’ lives. The young women of Mills lived on the top two stories of the building, and attended their lectures in classrooms on the ground floor. An interesting but irrelevant historical quirk of a building still in use by several departments of the modern college, one would think; but what the official histories of the building tend to leave out are the suicides.

As most any student on the Mills campus could tell you, the rooms on the top floor of Mills Hall were reserved for the students who were engaged to be married, while the single girls lived on the floor below them. Of course, young women in the 1800s were not always happy with life as married women, and many of the Mills students who moved upstairs after their betrothals found a quick and easy way of escaping that life: they jumped.

And their stories are still told, repeated down the generations of students and whispered in the corners of the building today: the shades of unnamed women can sometimes be seen falling from open windows on misty evenings and dark nights, disembodied footsteps sound in the uppermost hallway, sad whispers and unnatural drafts are pushed to the back of the mind so as not to interfere in the busy lives of the students, professors, and administrators who fill the building today. The young women who perished in that building for fear of the future still haunt the edges of Mills life, reminding us of our history and the benefits that the modern Mills girl enjoys simply by existing in the present day. But the students have never forgotten those women who came before them, although their names and individual tragedies have faded over decades and repetitions. They are still here, both as ghosts and as the spooky stories that students tell one another about the building they see every day.

Cite this Page:

Savannah Stelzer, “Haunted Mills: Mills Hall,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed October 16, 2018, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/44.
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