A little over a year ago, the doors of The Hill School’s iconic Dining Hall were closed as work on essential updates and improvements began as part of a $15.1 million project of The Strength of All Campaign. The doors reopened on March 19, 2019 when students returned to campus after spring break. The beloved Dining Hall was rededicated on Friday, June 7 during Reunion Weekend.
Alumni, Trustees, faculty members, and guests gathered in the Class of 1967 Courtyard as Vice Chairman of the Board James Alexandre ’75 kicked off the event by thanking all the individuals who helped make this historic project a reality. He then joined Honorary Trustee Thomas McN. Millhiser ’67, members of the Millhiser family, and other key supporters of the project for the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the doors of the newly named Millhiser Family Dining Room
“This Dining Hall and our tradition of seated family meals are emblematic of our Family Boarding School ideal, the heart and soul of The Hill experience,” remarked Headmaster Lehman as he welcomed guests to the dinner.
“This is the one place on campus that every member of our community visits every day. Though not a traditional classroom setting, many students and alumni point to the Dining Hall as the place which holds their most treasured Hill memories and enduring life lessons. We are deeply grateful to the alumni, parents, and friends who have made this project a reality for our Dear Old Hill.”
Following his remarks, Trustee Hans Maentz '89 led a “Raise Your Spoon” auction-style event which generated more than $100,000 in new gifts to complete fundraising for the project.
History of The Hill School Dining Hall
When the Reverend Matthew Meigs purchased the Hobart Mansion and founded The Hill School in 1851, he constructed a wing of the east side of the Mansion which housed dormitory room, classrooms, and a Dining Room and kitchen in the basement. Family seated meals were always a priority.
When John Meigs later gained ownership of the School and campus from his father in 1884, he moved the Dining Room to the first floor, occupying the north end of current Dining Room.
In 1914, Dwight Meigs, son of John, and Alfred Rolfe presided over the expansion of the Dining Room to the south end, more than doubling the space. The entire student body of about 370 was able to be seated. The ceiling was raised to the height of two floors in keeping with an area of that size. The elevated walkway on the north side of the Dining Room enabled movement from the second floor of the east wing to the second floor of the Meigs House.
In 1961, the alcove was constructed which further increased the seating capacity for a student body of 450.
The infamous Meigs House fire on November 30, 1973 destroyed the original Hobart’s Mansion and the guest rooms above the Dining Room. The Dining Room itself narrowly escaped destruction. Meals were served in the gymnasium for two months following the fire. Within two years, the Saunders Room was built to replace the Meigs House.
Since the 1970s, little renovation or enhancement of the Dining Hall, pantry area, kitchen prep and clean up areas has been done – until this current renovation. The most noticeable and critical changes were made in the basement to the kitchen prep area and pantry as well as the addition of a scullery; new flooring was installed throughout the entire Hall; seating was expanded (from 624 to 684) into Saunders Room which now is equipped with an updated AV system; air conditioning (perhaps the most welcomed and appreciated change) was installed; and a fully-renovated upstairs meeting room, the Pinpoint Board Room, was constructed. Learn more about this project.