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Renovation of Taylor Hall Nears Completion

The east end of Woodberry's campus has seen a steady stream of construction activity this year. Taylor Hall has been wrapped in scaffolding for many months as workers undertake a wholesale renovation of the dorm. 

Originally built in 1955, Taylor and Turner Halls, which sit adjacent to each other, were made possible by alumni donations to the Tribute Trust Fund of 1955; Taylor Hall was dedicated on Saturday, October 29. The ceremony attracted many alumni. Taylor Hall was first occupied by students in the fall of 1955. In 1986, the dorm underwent a thorough renovation that totaled $300,000. The renovation included improving the common room, as well as replacing the hardware and alarm system, and restoring the bathroom and shower areas.

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For the next 37 years, Taylor Hall did not go through any major renovations. It became increasingly apparent in the past few years that Taylor Hall was outdated. Starting in 2023, Woodberry addressed this issue by proposing a plan to renovate both Taylor and Turner in successive years. 

“I cherished my days on Taylor, but it was time for a renovation,” said former Taylor dorm head Tyler Campbell. “The biggest issue on Taylor was that there was no air conditioning. During the warmer months, it got really hot and stale in the dorm. Having central air in all our dorms helps us stay competitive and appealing to kids.”

Another issue was the lack of exits in the dorm. “It kept me up at night thinking about if an event were to occur on upper Taylor and how dangerous it could be with the lack of exits,” said Campbell. “There was just one main staircase — if a fire were to occur in one of the upstairs rooms next to the staircase, the boys could be trapped.”

In June 2023, workers began gutting Taylor Hall for a full renovation. “This is a two-phase project broken up over two years,” said construction manager Joe Oergel. “Phase one being the completion of Taylor and the Link in late July.”

“Once the inside of Taylor was fully demolished, we brought in a scanner and scanned the whole building,” said project superintendent Kirk Jackson. “We learned where all the structural elements were, and we modeled the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing utilities around that scan. This approach has been working very well so far. We are on-pace, possibly ahead of schedule. The hardest part of the project so far has been the shoring and the underpinnings. We wound up having to drill down under Taylor to support the foundation using ‘Shock-Crete’ to ensure the foundation wouldn’t move when we began construction.”

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“The inside will be completely new,” said Jackson. “There will be new efficient heating and air conditioning. The only thing that will remain of the old building is the structure and the facade.”  

The centerpiece of the new renovation, dubbed “The Link,” will be a hallway connecting the Turner and Taylor dorms. This hallway will hold the laundry facilities and bathrooms for both of the dorms.

“I am really excited about having the freshmen all living together,” said Third- and Fourth-Form Dean of Students Frazier Stowers. “Having the Link between the dorms is going to give those guys more access to each other than the two separate buildings we currently have.”

For the 2024-25 school year, Taylor Hall will have 44 beds and an additional 15 temporary beds to accommodate the construction for Turner. When work is completed, there will be 44 beds on Taylor and 67 on Turner, as well as six new faculty apartments spread throughout the two dorms, including 2 in the link.

“The inside of Taylor will be completely new,” said special projects manager David Clore. 

“Some parts of Taylor were dangerous given its old age,” said Jackson. “These new dorms will meet the most rigorous safety codes.”

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This year, instead of the third form split between Turner and Taylor, half of the third form resides on the top floor of Dowd-Finch, a dorm that previously was exclusive to fifth formers.

“I think the separation of the third-form class has worked really well, and I really appreciate the help and support from members of the fifth-form class living on Dowd-Finch," said Stowers. "We are super excited about the renovations being made … those dorms were in need of a lot of work.”

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Reporting by journalism students Hanes Malin ’25, Charlie McKay ’25, Jake Dudley ’25, and Ridge Hogue ’25.
Woodberry Forest admits students of any race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, and national or ethnic origin to all of the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs. The school is authorized under federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.