Woodford House had the privilege of welcoming Old Girl, Dame Kate Harcourt, as guest of honour at the Grand Opening of two special buildings.
On Thursday 9 March, about 150 guests gathered at Woodford House to officially open, and tour through, the new Dame Kate Performing Arts Centre and the renovated Woodford Block, including the Bernard L Chambers Founders’ Room.
A highlight of the evening was during Dame Kate’s speech when she sang the old School Song, On Top of the Hill. The audience sung along and then erupted into laughter when Dame Kate joked, “But the School isn’t on a hill”.
Dame Kate Harcourt with her son Gordon Harcourt
These buildings were the fruit of lengthy discussions, which began about seven years ago, when the School became aware that some buildings required strengthening to meet new seismic standards.
While it was sobering to learn, it was also an opportunity to develop spaces better equipped for today’s learning.
The buildings included Haddington, originally constructed in 1935 as a boarding house, and the Woodford Building, which stands proudly at the front of the School.
In December 2015, Haddington was demolished, with the blessing of the Caseley family, to make way for a Performing Arts Centre, named in honour of a well-known actress, Dame Kate Harcourt.
Dame Kate Harcourt Performing Arts Centre
The Dame Kate Harcourt Performing Arts Centre, which Dame Kate nicknamed “Kate’s Place”, spans over three levels and includes a drama and dance studio with sprung floors, a music rehearsal space, three classrooms, five tutorial rooms, acoustics throughout the teaching spaces, costume and prop storage facilities and a school maintenance workshop.
In January 2016, renovations commenced inside the Woodford Building, including a new kitchen, laundry, extended dining room and outdoor deck for Year 13 students, as well as the Bernard L Chambers Founders’ Room, a multi-purpose space for our community to use.
Around $6 million was invested into these projects and the School is grateful for the generous support of our community. Woodford House would like to acknowledge and thank the Chambers Charitable Trust for their substantial contribution in supporting Woodford House as a leading school for girls.
Woodford House has helped more than 8000 students receive a world-class education. As we continue to provide an environment that fosters academic excellence, creativity and the best care for young women, we must invest significantly in our surroundings. Over the years, we have upgraded, renewed and built upon our campus with an extensive range of facilities while cherishing the original buildings laid by our Founders. When Mabel Annie Hodge relocated Woodford House to the hills of Havelock North in 1911, there were three buildings, 60 students and six staff. One hundred and six years on, the School now has more than 20 buildings, 320 students and 80 staff.