On January 26, with the noontime sun shining down on another beautiful Ojai day, crews officially broke ground on the highly anticipated new dining hall
. Gathered around the site where the central fireplace will someday sit (one of many such nods to the beloved Hills Dining Hall), were the Thacher Board of Trustees, Director of the Dining Hall Richard Maxwell and his team, Alumni & Development staff, Head of School Michael Mulligan and Joy Sawyer-Mulligan, PENTA staff (contractors), Blackbird staff (architects), and the generous donors who made the project possible.
Cabot Brown, president of the board of trustees, and John S. Gates, the former building and grounds committee chair and longtime champion of the project, both spoke to the gathered crowd.
Jeff Berndt, director of institutional advancement, has said of the project: “Our new dining hall—which will retain the round tables, lazy susans, and plaques on the walls that have defined the current building—will promote Thacher community and values more than any other facility on our campus. Three times a day, seven days a week our teachers, students, staff, and visitors will come together in a uniquely Thacher, western-style facility in which we can enjoy healthy, local food and—most importantly—conversations with one another. We’ll now all be able to dine in a beautiful place where we can actually see and hear one another, which will reinforce the central role our informal and formal meals play in strengthening community life.”
Given the size of today’s community, the new dining hall will provide much-needed additional space and improved acoustics, as well as better accommodate the evolving operational needs of the kitchen as it continues to focus more on sustainability and healthy eating
The current Hills Dining Hall, which was built in 1897
and last received a major upgrade in the 1980s, will remain standing and will eventually be converted into work, meeting, and gathering space for administrators, students, and staff.
Most of all, the School is deeply grateful for the many generous members of the Thacher community who have donated their financial resources, time, and energy to make this transformational project possible.
To learn more about Thacher’s plans for upgrading the heart of campus facilities, click here.