History

Built to Thrive

Founded as the Blue Ridge Industrial School in 1909 by Reverend George Pickett Mayo, the school’s early mission was to provide a vocational education for boys and girls who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to realize their rich potential. Today, Blue Ridge School is dedicated to providing a sound college-prep education for capable and willing young men. In our supportive, structured community, self-esteem is founded upon solid accomplishment in the classroom, on athletic fields, in the arts, and in a host of co-curricular activities.

Timeline

1909

Reverend Mayo on his horse

1909

Founded by Reverend Mayo of the Virginia Diocese of the Episcopal Church. Mayo would lead the school until 1944.

1910

historical photo of students at Blue Ridge School

1910

The School opened to approximately thirty-five boys and girls in January and many of the School’s original buildings were completed.  

1918

historical photo of the first graduation at Blue Ridge School

1918

The School’s first commencement was held and Eveline and Bannie Morris were awarded diplomas.

1929

historical photo of Gibson Chapel

1929

The cornerstone for the Gibson Memorial Chapel was laid. Built of native stone by local craftsmen and designed by noted architect Ralph Adam Cram, the Chapel was completed in 1932.

1935

historical photo of Battle House.

1935

The Martha Bagby Battle House, originally known as Memorial Hall, was constructed. It now houses the Admissions, Alumni, and Advancement Offices.

1942

1942

1942

Mrs. Will Reeves Gregg, a co-founder of the New York Auxiliary, was appointed to the Board of Trustees—one of the first two women to serve the School in that capacity. She was a rock of support and an active Board member until 1984.

1946

Headmaster Dewey Loving

1946

Reverend Dewey Loving took the reins of Blue Ridge School and led until 1959. Loving graduated from Blue Ridge in 1923, making him the only alumnus to become our Headmaster.

1947

historical photo of the Academic Building at Blue Ridge School

1947

Blue Ridge opened a new academic building, which is still in use today.

1959

storm damage from 1959

1959

A tornado hit Blue Ridge School, killing one, damaging many buildings, and destroying more than 150 trees.

1961

1961

1961

Academic programs were suspended for the year as BRS converted into an all-boys, college-prep boarding school. Robert A. Wilson was named Headmaster.

1962

First football team at Blue Ridge School

1962

With a student body of only 66 boys, Blue Ridge played its first season of football. Newly appointed Athletic Director James “Stimp” Hawkins coached the team and remained head football coach until 1968.

1963

Headmaster Hatcher Williams

1963

Hatcher C. Williams was appointed Headmaster and began an influential term that lasted until 1984.

1965

Walsh Dormitory dedication

1965

The Homan H. Walsh Dormitory was dedicated. Today, Walsh Dorm houses 70% of the Blue Ridge student population.

1966

the first international student at Blue Ridge School

1966

The first international student graduates from Blue Ridge School. Now approximately 20% of the student body comes from abroad.

1968

Mayo Hall

1968

George P. Mayo Hall was constructed. Mayo Hall holds the auditorium, dining hall and administrative offices.

1970

Art teacher Alice Ivory.

1970

Blue Ridge School hired Mrs. Alice Wesley Ivory, its first African-American teacher. She led the Art Department and her own work was displayed in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

1973

the first art exhibition at Blue Ridge School

1973

Blue Ridge School’s first art exhibition, featuring the work of 160 professional artists and 29 BRS students. The show has become an annual tradition.

1975

Blue Ridge School Wrestling Team 1975 - National Champions

1975

Our wrestling team, coached by Dick Glover, finished with a 12-2 record and won the National Prep Tournament.

1984

alumni basketball game at Blue Ridge School

1984

The multi-million dollar Massey Athletic Complex was completed and named for Bill Massey ’70.

1986

1986 basketball state champion team

1986

The Barons basketball team won its first State Championship.

1987

Headmaster Jordan Churchill

1987

History Teacher Jordan C. Churchill retired following a 57-year career.

1992

Headmaster Ed McFarlane

1992

Dr. Edward McFarlane is appointed Headmaster. He served until 2000.

1993

The front of Williams Library

1993

The Hatcher C. Williams Library and the Administration Center were dedicated.

1993

Gibson Chapel and Battle House

1993

The Gibson Memorial Chapel was named a Virginia Historic Landmark.

1994

Football state champions in 1994

1994

The Barons football team won its first State Championship.

1999

Mountain Bike race at Blue Ridge School

1999

A grant allowed Blue Ridge School to double the Gateway Trails to 10 miles and formally began the School’s Outdoors Program.

2009

Historical photo of a headmaster

2009

Dr. John O’Reilly was appointed Headmaster. A former Blue Ridge School math instructor, assistant football coach and Academic Dean, he was responsible for creating the Character Education program.

2009

New York Auxiliary plaque

2009

The New York Auxiliary marked 100 years of continuous fundraising support of Blue Ridge School.

2012

Headmaster Trip Darrin

2012

William “Trip” Darrin III was named Headmaster.

2016

Baron Athletic Complex at BlueRidge School

2016

The Baron Athletic Complex, which includes a multi-sport turf field, a track, new soccer fields, a golf practice range, and significant upgrades to the baseball stadium, was completed.

2018

2018

2018

Architectural Digest named Blue Ridge School one of the most beautiful independent schools in America.

2018

The end of a theater production at Blue Ridge School

2018

Franck Germain BRS ’18 produced Decatur 404, the first student-written and student-directed winter musical.

2020

Zoom Class Online

2020

A global pandemic forced all schools, including Blue Ridge School, to cease in-person operations. BRS students were on spring break when the announcement came that they would complete their classes through video conferencing. In-person graduation was delayed until July 25, 2020.

2022

Williams Dining Hall

2022

In January 2022, Blue Ridge School opened a new dining hall in the space that was previously the Williams Library. The new facility replaced the dining hall that had been in use since the construction of (new) Mayo Hall in 1968.