When J. Carter Walker returned to Woodberry Forest in 1897 to assist his father, Robert Stringfellow Walker, and to become Woodberry’s first headmaster, father and son quickly began planning for a new school building.
After Mr. Walker mortgaged the Woodberry property to secure $30,000 and called upon friends, neighbors, and relatives for loans, work on what was then called the Main Building began in 1898. The foundation was made from bricks fired where the third green of Woodberry’s golf course now sits. Trees from Woodberry and surrounding farms were logged for timber to frame out the rooms.
When the building opened in February 1899, it was cutting edge, and the finest prep school building in the South. Additions over the following decades, as well as updates to the original space, made it the place where Woodberry boys lived, ate, and studied.
As the building nears its 120th birthday, Woodberry is completely renovating and revitalizing the Walker Building, ensuring that it is once again a cutting edge space devoted to educating boys.
In 2017 the William H. White Library moved from Hanes Hall to the former Reynolds Family Dining Room. The main level of the library, now called the Reynolds Family Learning Commons, is devoted to collaborative spaces for teaching classes or holding group study sessions. The upper level of the library, in Dunnington Reading Room, is home to the Academic Development Center and is also a place of quiet study.
Over the next two years we will renovate the rest of the building. A Dorm will become the new home of the Admission and College Counseling Offices. B Dorm and C Dorm are receiving their first complete renovation in decades, with new rooms that are more evenly sized. The dormitories will also have air conditioning for the first time.
Community street is being reimagined as a space devoted entirely to students. A revamped student store has already opened. The Fir Tree will be enhanced and expanded. The Outdoors Program will have space for gear check-out, bike repairs, and meetings. Two large game areas will give the boys living on Walker and all other boys a place to congregate for pool, ping-pong, and more. A new kitchen will give students a place to prepare food with their friends or advisory group.
Restoring a historic building and ensuring it is ready to serve the next generation of students is expensive work. We need the help of the Woodberry community to make it happen.