On Friday, November 3, 2023, members of the community—including classmates and friends of Barbara and Allan Staats ’56—gathered for the dedication and ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Barbara and Allan Staats House. After a welcome from Anne Roche, Clerk of the Board of Trustees, Head of School Chris Benbow and Dean of Advancement Ellen Urbanski addressed the gathering. Once Benbow cut the ribbon, the Advancement team hosted a reception and open house.
Formerly known as the Lane House, the building was completed in 1920 to be used as a faculty residence. It has remained primarily a space for faculty and staff housing, and most recently served as a second health center during the pandemic. “And now, friends,” shared Head of School Chris Benbow at the ceremony, “it is the Allan and Barbara Staats House! As many of you know, Allan attended Westtown from 1953 to 1956, and he and Barbara were active in the life of the school for decades, visiting campus regularly for class reunions and other events, including Commencent in the Greenwood…Allan described his deep appreciation for what Westtown taught him both as a student in the classroom and as a whole person. He noted that his years at Westtown were among his most memorable, and that he developed values and dispositions that grounded him throughout his life, including the critical importance of maintaining hope and positivity.”
The Staats have been tremendously generous to Westtown School over the years supporting the Westtown Fund, financial aid, capital projects, and several endowed funds. “Although we lost Allan in 2020 and Barbara in 2022, their legacy lives on,” shared Ellen Urbanski, Dean of Advancement. “Through their estate, the Staats’ generosity is now providing additional support to financial aid, the endowment, the Center for the Living Arts and the Staats House renovation. The Staats’ estate gift also provided resources for us to endow their annual Westtown Fund gift, which will support the Westtown community in perpetuity. Allan and Barbara understood the importance of community and took great pleasure in being with friends and family. In 2021, as we were preparing to honor his life during Alums Weekend, Barbara told me, ‘Allan loved Westtown and is smiling down on all of us knowing that his gifts bring joy to Westtown students, faculty and staff.’ While I do wish they were with us today, I imagine they are both smiling on us this afternoon and cheering on our work together on behalf of Westtown School.”
“Living and learning together—and from one another—is an essential ingredient of the Westtown experience,” continued Benbow. “The community we build here each and every year—each and every day, really—the life long connections we make, and the ways these experiences and relationships shape who we are and how we move through the world simply would not happen without the generosity and intention of people like Allan and Barbara. Financial support for our students and families remains one of our highest priorities, and as someone who has known some of the young people who have benefited directly from Allan and Barbara’s generosity, I also know how much Westtown has benefited from the gifts those young people bring, grow, and share with us daily. We are thrilled to have another welcoming community space on campus where we can connect alums, parents, guardians, grandparents, students, faculty, staff—all members of our community. When I look at this building, I will continue to think with gratitude of Allan and Barbara, of their generosity, and of the connections and community they continue to help make possible.” The Staats House will now serve as offices for the Advancement Department and as a welcoming entertainment and meeting space for the entire Westtown community. The next time you are on campus, we invite you to stop by the Staats House to see this wonderful space. Until then, enjoy the gallery of photos from the ribbon cutting!