Abbott Dedication Celebrates School History

Amidst blooming trees and a warm breeze, guests gathered on the evening of May 3 on the terrace of the newly redesigned Abbott Dining Hall for the building’s official dedication.

Michael Chae ’86, president of the Lawrenceville Board of Trustees, welcomed an audience of trustees, trustees emeriti, Fifth Formers, and other special guests.

“Abbott is an outstanding example of historic continuity, thanks to the Stephans, the Mario Family, and the work of other dedicated individuals who participate in the building’s design, construction and devotion to historic preservation,” Chae said.

Wes Brooks ’71 H’09 P’03 ’05, Lawrenceville’s former chief financial officer, offered comments on behalf of John Stephan ’59, his brother-in-law and the major donor to the building’s renovation, who was unable to attend the dedication.

The redesign process was kindled almost a decade ago, when John Stephan sat down to dinner in the “old” Abbott Dining Hall for his 50th Reunion and saw the need for a new and improved Abbott that would better reflect Lawrenceville’s history, traditions and style.

An earlier gift from the Stephans created The Stephan Archives, a state-of-the-art physical and digital repository for Lawrenceville’s extensive collection of School-centric documents, images and artifacts. Honoring Lawrenceville’s history and traditions was a key goal in the Abbott redesign, and special effort was made to create a space that visually tells Lawrenceville’s archival stories.

“Sparking and feeding your curiosity is what Abbott and the Archives are both about, hand-in-hand, a pair of projects, each taking a different form,” Brooks said. “Building your discipline to pursue your curiosities is what Lawrenceville as a whole is all about, to help you find your way to positive and powerful paths, wherever your lives will take you.” 

Jeremy Mario ’88 P’16 ’20 highlighted the unique role his family foundation has played in several capital projects on campus. The Mario Family Foundation has provided additional support, following commitments by lead donors, to multiple building and/or renovation projects. Looking to the future and speaking as a Lawrenceville trustee, he emphasized the School’s need for donors who are willing to play a supporting role.

Head Master Steve Murray H’55 ’65 ’16 P’16 ’21 led a ribbon-cutting ceremony to make the dedication official, and acknowledged the impact of the speakers as well as others on campus and beyond who helped bring the vision of a redesigned Abbott to life.
“Like most major projects, this one took a village,” he said. “In this case, that village was populated by both internal and external villagers who contributed greatly to our success.”
Addressing the Fifth Form directly, Murray said, “you will soon be leaving for new adventures and opportunities. I hope you will find as much meaning and good will in those pursuits as the Stephans, the Mario family and so many others have poured into this building.”
A blessing from Lawrenceville Chaplain Rev. Sue Anne Steffey Morrow H’12 concluded the event. In a lively benediction parodying Cole Porter’s “It’s De-lovely,” Morrow offered, “may all that happens in this de-lovely space be blessed.”
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