On September 5th, the artists of Firnew Farm Artists Circle will open their show “New Beginnings” in the Walker Fine Arts Building on the campus of Woodberry Forest School. A reception will be held from 5-7 pm and promises the attendees wonderful art to explore and local food to taste.
I have three photographs in this show that were taken on the campus of Woodberry Forest School this summer. Most of you know by now that I look for and love to find coincidences and connections between my current life and something in my past. Well, I found it at WFS. I took this photograph of the dining hall, a beautiful, quaint room with warm colors, Clore furniture handmade in Madison County, and plenty of history. As I was trying to determine a name for this photograph, I had to ask for information about it from a faculty member. I learned that the dining hall is called “Reynolds Family Dining Room.” I had previously learned that Bowman Gray, Jr. had attended WFS. He was a former president of Reynolds Tobacco, but that didn’t tell me about this dining room. Of course I did an online search and found a more direct connection between the Reynolds family and WFS. But, before I tell you that connection, let me tell you about my own, somewhat weak, connection to the Reynolds family.
I grew up in Patrick County, Virginia. A little community in my county is Critz, and it is the location of the Reynolds Homestead. Hardin Reynolds was the patriarch of this family who lived in Critz, and two of his sons were responsible for founding Reynolds Tobacco Co. and a third founded Reynolds Metals and Reynolds Aluminum. My nephew is currently teaching at Hardin Reynolds Elementary School in Patrick County.
The member of the Reynolds Family who attended Woodberry Forest was J. Sergeant Reynolds, son of the founder of Reynolds Metals. “Sarge” went on to become Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the late 1960s. Sadly, he developed a brain tumor and died at age 34 in June 1971 (coincidentally, the month I graduated from college). He is buried at the Reynolds Homestead. Virginia lost a rising star when he died.
There’s the connection. My photograph of the Reynolds Family Dining Room took me back to my roots in Patrick County. I suppose as a lifelong Virginian, I should not be surprised when I find links to other Virginians, but it continues to delight me, no matter how tenuous the link might be.