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ARCHITECTURE

As you travel the tree-lined entry road to Mills College, you will quickly discover one of the most majestic buildings on campus. The dramatic carved entryway—framed by spiral columns embellished with medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque statuary—is a testament to the eclectic vision of noted California architect Walter Ratcliff Jr. (1881–1973).

Opened in 1928, the Music Building is one of several Spanish Colonial structures that Ratcliff designed at Mills while serving as campus architect from 1923 to 1947. Flanked by practice rooms and classroom wings on either side, the Littlefield Concert Hall is the centerpiece of the Music Building. This historic 450-seat auditorium is adorned with dark wooden beams, wrought-iron and mica chandeliers, and a spectacular ceiling of richly colored tiles. Encircling the hall are multi-hued frescoes and murals painted by Raymond Boynton that were integral to Ratcliff's visionary design for this home for musical innovation. Directly behind the concert hall is the open-air Greek Theatre, with seats sloping up the hillside to accommodate 1,500 guests.

The Music Building design earned Ratcliff widespread recognition and a prestigious architectural award of honor. This award was presented to Mills President Aurelia Henry Reinhardt in 1929 at the biennial architectural exhibition of the Northern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

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