Charles Hargrove ’17
Upon our Woodberry return, we were introduced to the latest project on campus: a renovation to the Walker Building. Before we left last year, there were rumours as to what would happen to our school’s oldest building. Rising sophomores were hoping that it was the project that would provide air-conditioning while the rest of the school wondered if a student commons would be added.
Still today, no student is entirely certain about what is going on. The only remnant of change is a green wall that has been erected on the east side of the building. This wall has been met with a large amount of discontent. Brought up in conversation and during pep rallies, the ‘’Great Wall of Woodberry’’ was the talk of the school in the fall. One reason for the talk is the wall now blocks the convenient outdoor entrance to the Fir Tree. Mostly though, the student body seems curious as to what exactly is going on behind the wall.
So what is going on behind the wall?
To look forward we must first look back. Before the original bridge crossing the Rapidan was washed out, the Walker Building was the first building seen by all who entered Woodberry’s gates. The buildings sheer size and great four columns are enough to put anyone in awe. Alumnus and Headmaster Byron Hulsey describes the Walker Building as the “nerve center” of The Forest. Home to the Post Office, retired Reynolds Family Dining Hall and the Fir Tree, the Walker Building also serves as the largest dorm on campus. It has simply been a place of communion of faculty and students for over 100 years. With the addition of the Manning Science Building and newly finished Kenan Hall though, the center of campus seems to have shifted away from the Walker Building and towards the Rapidan.
The project behind the wall seems to be an effort to bring the center of ‘community’ back to the Walker Building.
Currently the renovation is in Phase 1A of ten phases and subphases. This project consists of upgrades in areas of utilities, mechanical systems, and safety systems. The final step in this phase is scheduled for Spring Break of this year. Sadly, C-6 is planned to become a faculty apartment. Simultaneously, Phase 1C will bring renovation to the Student Store and Post Office while modifying the road outside of that area of the building, where a portico is planned to be added. Phase 1C also contains a project that will change dorm life on Walker forever. Next year’s 4th formers will be the first residents of the Walker Building to have air conditioning. These two phases are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of next school year.
With no official end date in sight, we are all looking forward to the Walker Building’s community reemergence in the future.