Over the course of Rabun Gap’s history, the need to provide our students with healthy and nutritious food has always been a constant. It is a responsibility that Rabun Gap has taken seriously from the founding of the School.
With a history that spans almost 120 years, the facilities that Rabun Gap has used to provide meals for their students have changed throughout the years.
The original dining hall was housed inside of the Rabun Gap Industrial School, which was built in 1905. This building once stood where our Upper School academic building, Hodgson Hall, now stands. The dining hall was located on the second floor of the building and contained long wooden tables and chairs. Unfortunately, in early 1926, the entire building burned down. It was after this tragedy that Rabun Gap Industrial School merged with the Nacoochee Institute, creating Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in 1927.
After the original dining hall was gone, a private home that had been there since before the School was founded was converted into the new dining hall. This building, which stood where the current Administration Building is, was used from 1927 - 1951. It was “L” shaped with a serving line, a kitchen, and a wood burning stove. This building also served multiple purposes, as the second floor was used as a dorm and also apartments for the dieticians.
The need for a new dining hall became apparent as the years went by with the aging of the older house. In 1951, Rabun Gap celebrated the opening of the Addie Corn Ritchie Dining Hall, named after founder Dr. Andrew Ritchie’s wife. The modern brick building had a large dining room that could seat 240 with new tables and chairs and a serving area. It also included a state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen with built-in refrigeration, and apartments in the back. In an article from the Clayton Tribune dated May 10, 1951, it was described as a “beautiful building, modern in every detail” and was said to be “the most modern dining hall for any school in this section of the country and is a beautiful thing in the workmanship, the finish on the building, and the well designed and carried out facilities for a building of this type.”
Mr. George Woodruff gave the speech at the dedication, and spoke highly of Addie Corn Ritchie. “Mrs. Addie Corn Ritchie is good timber. She has lived a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity and love of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust,” he said.
Aunt Mary Brown, school dietician from 1949-1973, lived in one of the apartments in the Addie Corn Ritchie Dining Hall. She made a huge impact on the lives of the students and faculty during her tenure here and was well-loved for how well she cared for everyone. Over her decades of service, she became well known for her famous yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls.
The Addie Corn Ritchie Dining Hall served the Rabun Gap community until 2019 when Rabun Gap opened the new Richard and John Woodruff Dining Hall. With the growth of the School, the Addie Corn Ritchie Dining Hall had grown too small to keep up with the demands of the larger community.
The Richard and John Woodruff Dining Hall is a modern, 15,000 square foot facility offering an array of wonderful opportunities for the growing Rabun Gap community. In addition to a dining room that can seat more than 400, the space includes a grand foyer, large windows with views of campus, a well-equipped and energy-efficient kitchen, a formal boardroom, a covered porch, and an expansive patio for meals and events. It continues to be a place where the Rabun Gap community comes together to enjoy food and fellowship for years to come.