By Kate Robinson Beckwith, MFA ’13
Built in 1949 with funding from Mills alumnae, Reinhardt Alumnae House (RAH) was designed by architect Clarence Mayhew to serve as the campus home of the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC). While RAH continues to fill its original purpose, today it also serves the wider community as a venue for events of all kinds, from wedding receptions to meetings.
The house’s facilities, however, have not always kept pace with its expanding functions. The kitchen, in particular, was long in need of a major renovation to better serve the AAMC as well as those renting RAH for events. Two recent developments enabled the AAMC Board of Governors to launch this renovation in 2018: the signing of the 2017 Memorandum of Collaboration and Agreement between the AAMC and the College, which reaffirmed the AAMC’s rights to RAH; and a gift from the trust of the late Audrey Ditmer Gibney ’46.
Pierre Loving ’77, former governor and RAH Committee chair, enthusiastically spearheaded the renovation. She designed the kitchen’s layout herself, meeting frequently with Karen Fiene, the College’s architect. She recruited architectural firm Stevens & Associates to create the preliminary drawings of the project, and after interviewing 12 different contractors, the firm helped her settle on Oakland’s American Precision Builders to get the job done. Loving closely and thoughtfully monitored every step of the renovation, including widening the entry to make the kitchen more accessible to wheelchair users.
The project took more than a year, from the start of planning to the renovation’s completion in November 2018. The result is a state-of-the-art contemporary kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, made possible by the Gibney Trust as well as generous donations from Orange County Mills College Alumnae, Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae, Wynne West Dobyns ’66, Miki Hong ’95 and Mark Morodomi, Louise Leck ‘11, and Jeanne Vance ‘91.
At its December 2018 meeting, the Board of Governors voted to name the kitchen the Loving Kitchen in honor of Pierre’s hard work. The name is fitting, as Loving hopes for the kitchen to be a loving center of community on the Mills campus. She notes: “I would like to see alumnae come back and use Reinhardt Alumnae House as their home on campus and as a friendly space for events. Everyone who has had an event here has fond memories, especially those who got married at the chapel and then had their reception here. So come use it—and tell other people about it! I want this house to be the most popular spot in Oakland to rent for activities! ” For information on renting RAH, contact the AAMC at 510.430.2110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.