Tag Archives: Oak Hill

Finding Kate CoverKate Macy Ladd visited Berry only once in her life, but those three days in 1915 inspired a lifetime of support. The legacy of her generosity is still evident today in the form of Lemley Hall, the Road of Remembrance, Memorial Library, and, of course, the Ladd Center, the only Berry building that actually bears her name.

The story of the New Jersey philanthropist – an heiress to the Standard Oil Company – is chronicled in Finding Kate: The Unlikely Journey of 20th Century Healthcare Advocate Kate Macy Ladd, a new book by Meryl Carmel. It was during her 10 years of research on the project that the author learned of Ladd’s strong ties to Martha Berry and her schools.

As Carmel recounted, Ladd’s visit to Berry was driven by a desire to seek out causes and people she could support. Joining her was husband Walter – a future Berry trustee – her Pomeranian dog and good friend Alice Lemley. During a train layover in Atlanta, she ordered boxes of chocolates for the Berry students.

“For many of those children, no one had given them a gift like that before,” Carmel noted.

Ladd was so inspired by the students’ gratitude that she continued to send them Christmas chocolates every year until her death in 1945.

Kate Macy Ladd Portrait

A color version of this Albert Herter portrait hangs in the Court of Honor at The Martha Berry Museum.

“She describes the experiences she had with the children at Berry to be some of the most interesting of her life,” the author said.

Beyond her own donations, Ladd helped lay the groundwork for the “Berry Pilgrims,” groups of wealthy Northerners who would come to Berry to see the campus and donate money to the school. As detailed in Berry College: A History, by Drs. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS), and Doyle Mathis (58C, FFS), these pilgrimages were led by Emily Vanderbilt Hammond, another prominent philanthropist who first met Martha Berry at Ladd’s home.

Ladd’s opinion of the Berry founder was such that she eventually established a private trust to provide her with a private income. She also helped fund significant reconstruction and landscaping at Oak Hill in the late 1920s.

Interestingly, the only structure on campus named for this early friend of Berry wasn’t built until the 1960s, long after her death. As the author explained, Ladd was a very selfless person who was less interested in the credit for the donations and more concerned with the giving itself.

“She had a heart for people, for all kinds of people,” Carmel stated.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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Al Christopher’s talents as a woodworker are evident all over the Berry campus – you just have to know where to look. Numerous projects completed by Alumni Work Week participants and friends in the Berry College class of 1961 reflect his trademark craftsmanship, as does the beautiful new Christopher Browning Pavilion at Oak Hill.

Recently, friends and family celebrated the opening of a new exhibit at The Martha Berry Museum – “From Tree to Treasure: Woodturnings by Al Christopher” – showcasing a different side of his creativity and artistry.

Al Christopher (61c) with some of his creations

Al Christopher (61c) has been prolific in his art since taking up woodturning in retirement. Select pieces are now on display at The Martha Berry Museum.

It was only in retirement that Christopher took up woodturning, which involves the use of a lathe and hand tools to create works of art. He refuses the title artist, preferring “hobbyist” instead, but the skills used to produce the pieces on display at Oak Hill – many Berry inspired – are undeniable.

“Over the past 14 years, he has gone from being a slightly interested party to someone who lives and breathes this medium, said Rachel McLucas (12C), curator of The Martha Berry Museum. “One of the things that is so evident in this collection is the enjoyment woodworking brings to him. He has a long career in millwork and contracting that has informed his work in unique ways.

“I think whenever anyone approaches this exhibition they’re going to walk away surprised even if they know him and are familiar with his work,” she added. “There are just so many hidden treats within it.”

The exhibition runs through May. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Click here to see examples of his work.

Look for more on Al and Becky Browning (61C) Christopher in the fall issue of Berry magazine, due out in a few short weeks.

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Al and Becky Browning Christopher are all smiles at the dedication of the new event pavilion bearing their names.

Al and Becky Browning Christopher are all smiles at the dedication of the new event pavilion bearing their names.

A beautiful addition to Oak Hill – as functional as it is breathtaking – has enhanced the ability of Martha Berry’s historic estate to serve as a front door to Berry. The Christopher Browning Pavilion was dedicated at Alumni Weekend, a dream realized for two members of the Berry College class of 1961 who poured so much of themselves into it, Al and Becky Browning Christopher.

Made possible by a $1 million gift from the couple, the stunning 5,760-square-foot pavilion is nestled just down the hill from the Oak Hill home, only 100 yards from the site of the historic cabin where the vision for the Berry Schools was born. With its exposed juniper beams and full-lite exterior wooden doors, the structure is a showcase for Al’s considerable talents as an artist. In fact, he created many of the building’s most breathtaking elements at his woodworking shop in Florida, up to and including the cupola on the roof.

The resulting facility blends perfectly with its surroundings while accommodating up to 300 guests, depending on configuration. Features include a full catering kitchen and the ability to be used as an open-air pavilion or closed air-conditioned space.

Speaking for the couple, Al praised the educational experience Berry continues to provide and offered thanks to the many members of the project team who helped bring his vision to life, among them fellow alumni, college staff, current Berry students and external partners.

“One thing I have learned since being involved in several projects at Berry is that students are still being taught to use their heads, hearts and hands,” he said. “Becky and I do believe in what Berry is doing to prepare students for meaningful careers, and that’s why we’re involved alumni. I am honored and humbled for the credit given to me for having a hand in planning and building this building. It would be very selfish for me not to thank the many folks who made this possible.”

Al’s woodworking expertise will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at The Martha Berry Museum. Watch for more details in an upcoming issue.

One local planner described the new pavilion as “all the buzz” locally, with 35 events scheduled to date, including seven weddings. Call 706-368-6789 or email oakhillevents@berry.edu for details on reservations and scheduling.

Related links: Local news coverage; photo gallery.

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2016 Young Alumni Christmas PartyWe may be in the midst of the season of ghouls and goblins, but members of the Berry Alumni Association’s Young Alumni and Student Relations Committee are already humming Jingle Bells as they prepare for the second-annual Young Alumni Christmas Party. This treat for alumni who have graduated in the last five years will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Oak Hill. Last year’s inaugural event drew more than 100 alumni and friends for a night of festive holiday fun, and we’re looking forward to another big turnout.

This year’s celebration will feature a Scandinavian theme (perfect for a bunch of Vikings!) and the musical stylings of up-and-coming jazz vocalist and proud alumnus Greg Robbins (15C). There is no cost to attend. Simply RSVP by Dec. 1 at berry.edu/YAChristmas. Call 706-236-2256 or email alumni@berry.edu for more details.

Photo Gallery: 2016 Young Alumni Christmas Party

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Oak Hill and The Martha Berry Museum long has been a favorite gathering spot and event location for Berry alumni, the campus community, local residents and tourists. This spring, ground was broken on a new pavilion that will make the historic estate an even more ideal location for weddings, seminars, corporate meetings and other types of events.

Planned for completion later this fall, the pavilion is a dream realized for Al Christopher (61c), a longtime crew chief for Alumni Work Week whose woodworking expertise will be reflected in the juniper beams, full-lite doors and other elegant features of the 5,760 square-foot structure. With a full catering kitchen and space for up to 300 guests, the facility is designed to be used as an open-air pavilion or a closed, air-conditioned space. Funding was provided by an anonymous $1 million gift.

“From the start, we knew this pavilion at Oak Hill would be an important and strategic addition,” said Fred Tharpe (68A), chairman of the Master Planning Committee for the Berry College Board of Trustees, while addressing the Berry family members, alumni and friends who joined college officials for the April 1 groundbreaking.

“Those involved in the project have spent countless hours in planning. Through all of these meetings, we’re always conscious of Martha Berry’s words, ‘I pray that I may leave this place more beautiful than when I found it.’ I think Miss Berry would be pleased with what we’re doing with this pavilion.”

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A year after torrential rain forced some of Berry’s most beloved traditions to be moved indoors or cancelled all together, Mountain Day returned in all of its glory in 2016. Sunny skies and beautiful fall weather were the order of the day as 6,000 students, alumni, parents, faculty/staff members and friends turned out for the annual celebration of Martha Berry’s birthday. While students enjoyed the revelry of Friday afternoon’s Mountain Day Olympics and Saturday night’s Marthapalooza carnival, alumni swapped stories and renewed friendships during the annual picnic and other events, among them a special “milestone” reception at Oak Hill for classes marking their 10th, 25th and 40th reunion years.

Other highlights included convocation remarks by Michael Maney (98C), senior director of communications for Target, and the birth of a new giving tradition rooted in a shared Mountain Day experience, Pennies for Martha. Click the links for coverage of each.

Additional coverage: Around Berry Photo Gallery

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Amelia Earhart

Three years before disappearing over the Pacific while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, Amelia Earhart (third from right) posed with Martha Berry during a 1934 visit to Berry.

If the results of our latest Alumni Accent poll are any indication, Berry alumni LOVE their campus landmarks!

Our January question – Which Berry landmark is your favorite? – drew unprecedented response. Two mountain campus favorites – Frost Chapel and the Old Mill – led the way, each drawing 30 percent of the vote. Ford Dining Hall was next with 21 percent, followed by the House ‘o Dreams (9 percent), Oak Hill (6 percent), Possum Trot (2 percent) and Roosevelt Cabin (2 percent).

This month, we turn our attention from famous places to famous people. Scroll to the footer to tell us which notable Berry visitor you would most like to have met.

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Alumni Weekend PromoGood food? Yes!

Familiar faces? Absolutely!

Fun times? We guarantee it!

Berry’s annual Alumni Weekend and Young Alumni Weekend celebrations promise all of the above and more. The only thing missing is you!

This year’s events will be held Friday, May 30, through Sunday, June 1, with Alumni Work Week beginning immediately afterward and continuing through June 6. Click the links for details on each and to register online. The deadline is Friday, May 16, so please don’t delay.

Highlights this year include 11 different class reunion dinners on Friday, May 30, and an expanded alumni gala the following evening at the Forum in Rome. Reunions are scheduled for the college and high school/academy classes of 1949, 1954, 1959, 1964 and 1969 as well as the college class of 1961. Reunion dinner schedule and pricing.

The expanded gala promises to be an unforgettable tribute to Berry’s past and future, with several special recognitions scheduled. These include the induction of college and academy alumni from the class of 1964 into the Golden Guard and the presentation of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards to the following recipients:

Rayford Boyett (58C), Distinguished Achievement
John Shahan (64A, 69C)
, Distinguished Service
Andreas Economopoulos (97C)
, Entrepreneurial Spirit
Heather Henderson-Keller (03C)
, Outstanding Young Alumni

In addition, two longtime faculty members – Dana Professor of Government and International Studies Peter Lawler and Provost and Professor of Communication Kathy Richardson – will be welcomed as honorary alumni. Receptions for young alumni and Golden Guard members will precede the dinner, and an evening of dancing will follow the official program.

Other events you don’t want to miss include the Friday morning golf scramble, Saturday’s “behind-the-ropes” tour of Oak Hill and The Martha Berry Museum, and Sunday’s worship services. Events specific to young alumni include a Friday night gathering at Schroeder’s on Broad Street, a Saturday morning campus service project, and opportunities to take advantage of recreation and fitness facilities in the Cage Center on Saturday afternoon.

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Georgia Traveler: Berry College SegmentViewers of Georgia Public Broadcasting got a crash course in all things Berry during the November episode of Georgia Traveler. Featured landmarks in the “Coolest Campus” segment included Oak Hill and the Ford Buildings. GPB also highlighted Berry’s Hollywood connections, as well as the campus dairy and associated student-operated enterprises. The tone of the piece was so very Berry that an oft-repeated bit of campus hyperbole found its way into the narrative (the deer-to-student ratio is much closer to 1-to-1 than the 7-to-1 reported). Click the image to view for yourself.

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The Water's EdgeIn our last issue, we were excited to report that Berry’s Old Mill had shown up in the pages of Southern Living and Country Extra magazines. Not content to be confined to print, the iconic landmark has now made the leap to television as one of the featured sites in “The Water’s Edge,” an episode of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Georgia Outdoors series. The show can be viewed in its entirety by visiting the Georgia Outdoors website (accessible by clicking the image at left). Fast-forward to 10:37 to see the Old Mill and hear a brief interview with Oak Hill Director Tim Brown.

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More than 180 alumni and friends returned to campus in late May for one of Berry’s most unique and time-honored traditions, Alumni Work Week. This year’s celebration of Berry’s work heritage drew one of the largest crowds in history. Participants worked on a total of 24 different projects, including the reconstruction of the Oak Hill gazebo crushed last year by a falling tree, a new walkway on the Mountain Campus and a run-in shed for horses at the Gunby Equine Center.

Photo gallery.

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Storm Damage near the Original CabinOn April 27, alumni were stunned to see television images of downed trees and damaged buildings after a freak storm struck the Berry campus. Eight months later, on Dec. 22, Mother Nature struck again, this time downing more than 100 trees on the grounds of Oak Hill and The Martha Berry Museum. The storm, which included a tornado, also caused damage to the museum roof, Original Cabin and gift shop as it cut a swath across Rome and neighboring counties. Thankfully, no one on the grounds was hurt during the storm, and Martha Berry’s historic home and its adjacent outbuildings escaped damage. Coverage.

In the aftermath of the April storm, a Tree Replacement Fund was established to help renew the natural beauty of Berry’s campus. To date, more than $65,000 has been donated, 75 percent of which has come from alumni. Nearly 90 percent of the 559 donors are alumni. We offer heartfelt thanks to all who have given for making this effort your own!

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