CHATHAM — A new accolade has been granted to Chatham Hall by an online travel magazine — most beautiful school in Virginia.
The rolling hills and brick cathedral of the all-girl’s school received the accolade in a May 3 story by Insider that lists the most eye-catching school of every state.
“We’re thrilled with our program and our historic campus,” school spokeswoman Maisie Deely said. “We think it’s lovely, so it’s great to have that affirmation from outside sources.”
This is the second time the school been honored for its aesthetic quality. Last year, Southern Living Magazine also named it one of the most beautiful Southern schools.
Chatham Hall was founded as a private Episcopalian all-girls boarding school in 1894, and now boasts a student body of approximately 160 students from all over the world.
One part of the 362-acre campus was specifically mentioned, was Saint Mary’s Chapel. Originally built in 1939, the Renaissance-style brick cathedral has a vaulted ceiling, slate floors and hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind stained glass windows.
A small stuffed cardinal sits in the chapel, as a reminder of a single event. When the chapel first opened, they hadn’t put in the stained glass windows yet, and a cardinal flew into the building, Director of Digital Marketing Hunter Barnhardt said.
“The head of the school at the time asked for the bird to be shot,” Barnhardt said. “The girls totally flipped. They refused to go in until the bird was safely out. Of course the bird had already been killed, so to quell the oncoming riot, the head of the school memorialized it and left it there.”
The chapel houses all of the musical groups on campus, and also serves as a chapel for all of the students. It is dedicated to the Rev. Beverly D. Tucker, who was the president of the school’s board of trustees from 1918 to 1930.
“St. Mary’s Chapel is a very important part of our campus,” Deely said. “As an Episcopal school, it plays a huge role in the life of the girls and the life on campus.”
The Madonna and Child carving that sits above the entrance is dedicated to seven men who died during fighting in World War II, all of whom had a sister at Chatham Hall at the time.
Zoe Miller, author of the Insider story, did not reply to requests for comment on how the school was initially considered for the honor.