Darius Ogden Mills, D.O.Mills BUILDING

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I am doing historical research on Mr.Mills, and the building that bears his name, is it still standing? where is it? News papers here in Inyo County tell of marble being shipped from here for the building.I know D.O.Mills was president of the Bank of Calif. as well as president of the V.&T R.R. and a little background,and that He went back to New York, but not much else. any further info would be greatly appriciated.

-- JAMES N.SAYLOR (JNSAYLOR09@AOL.COM), February 08, 2002


I'm not really that interesting in buildings but I have passed the Mills building many times at 220 Montgomery Street and I do know that the building was not built all at once but had additions built to it every so often. I can quickly tell you a little bit about Darius Ogden Mills. Shortly after he heard about the gold discovery in early 1849, he quit his boring banking job in New York and came out West. He had planned on mining but the amount of money that miners were making each day did not impress him so he decided to sell products to miners that they desperatel needed. Because of the huge rush of people into this area deperately needing mining products, in a very short time, D.O. Mills had accumulated a small fortune in gold. He then ordered a whole shipload of mining products from back East but by the time they got back out here there was a flood of merchants trying to sell their products to miners so business was not that good. He then did what all successful business people do, they try something else. He ended up falling back on what he knew best and that was banking. So he set up a small bank in Sacramento. He hadn't even realized it but there there was an incredible need for a place for miners to deposit their gold and for people to take out loans to set up mining or other businesses. So again in a very short period of time, he made an incredible fortune and as more gold was taken out of the mines so did his fortune grow. Finally, with more than enough money to supply an entire nation with an army, he cashed out in 1862 and sold his bank. --At this same time in 1862, a guy by the name of William Ralston was forming a bank in San Francisco and he needed to have someone who would give the bank confidence so he made some kind of deal with Darius Ogden Mills, who had a magnificient reputation as a banker by then, to become President of the Bank of California. Mills agreed to do so as he was looking for business opportunities and investments for his money and Ralston seemed just the person to supply him with investment information. So D.O. Mills becamse President of the Bank of California but only as a figurehead. In fact, he spent very little time in San Francisco as he lived most of the time in Sacramento and often traveled back to New York and other places. Ralston, who officially declared himself treasurer of the bank, ran the day to day operations and made all the decisions. Several years later when the bank had gained the people's trust, D.O. Mills stepped down as president and Ralston took over his rightful spot.-- In 1875, there was a run on Ralston's Bank of California and it collapsed. Ralston, quite depressed, went to take a swim out in the ice cold bay as he had done many times before but this time he drowned in suicide as everyone and the papers reported. D. O. Mills then pledged his entire fortune to restore the Bank of California whereby he then by unanimous vote became its president. Again confidence was restord and Mills having such an incredible fortune had no need or desire to keep on working so in 1878, he resigned as president and went back to New York to live and enjoy his fortune.

-- Harry Murphy (harrymurphy@bigmailbox.net), February 09, 2002.

Here's a tidbit. San Francisco airport is located on the former Mills estate. The neighboring town is Millbrae.

Good luck in your research.


-- Kurt Iversen (iversenk@aol.com), February 10, 2002.

Yes, the building at 220 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA is still standing today. Phase I, 220 Mongtgomery Street, started in 1892, the building held up during the 1906 earthquake (the fire is what did the most damage), and Phase II & Phase III "Mills Tower", at 220 Bush Street, started in 1930 and again in 1935 finishing the tower. A beautiful Historical Landmark Building in deed.

I know this little bit of history because I work for the owners of the Mills Building as their Leasing and Construction Mgr. I'm sure its too late to use this info. for your project, but a little more information can't hurt.

-- Athena Moore (zzmoore@pacbell.net), January 20, 2003.

Better late then never. As you've read, the Mills Building at 220 Montgomery Street, San Francisco still exists. Montgomery Street is a street still very much stockbroker country. Until 1954, San Francisco International was known as: Mills Field. The city of Millbrae took the name of D. O. Mills estate there. His mansion, a tried and true Victorian, was demolished in the 1950s', when the Mills family sold the estate. Mills High School now occuppies the site of his home. A paternal aunt of mine spoke of visiting the Mills Estate in the 1920s'. Her memories of that house were vivid.I have seen a photograph of the old mansion on the web. If you're still interested, you might try the Google search engine; inputting Millbrae, CA.

-- Tom Kasinger (tekwkp@comcast.net), May 22, 2004.

Mills House No.1 located at 160 Bleecker Street NY, NY was designed by architect Ernest Flagg in the 1800's as a men's hotel. It offered clean, safe, lodging and it closed during the day to encourage men to find work. Back then it had over 1500 single rooms. Today it has 189 luxury Co-Op units. It has two signature identical massive 10 story interior airshafts that are covered with skylights. Hence the name, "The Atrium." The legendary Jazz Showcase named the Village Gate also was located in this building for over 30 years. Currently, it is a CVS with "The Village Theatre" located below.

I have the entire blockfront groundfloor retail condominium portion with theatre and 2 apartments for sale at $18.5 Million. I also have a rare 4 bedroom, 3 bath Upper CO-Op duplex available for $5 Million that overlooks half of the block on Bleecker. I have two other South facing penthouse units for sale as well.

If anyone knows anyone who this would be historically important to, please let me know.

Photos may be seen at www.kvny.com. Type in "scott" Or call 917-502-9207.

-- Scott Snizek (ss@kvny.com), June 09, 2004.

Just FYI, Darius' grandson Ogden Livingston Mills was Secretary of the Treasury under Herbert Hoover.

-- Jennifer Godwin (mail@jengod.com), June 24, 2004.

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