Cate School’s original library, which used to sit at the base of the campus and now sits at its crest, is about to get another new home – and a new name. Currently occupied by the Swain/Sommers family, the structure was part of the school Curtis Cate built beginning in 1910, and became a faculty house in 1945 when it was moved up the Cate Mesa Road to its present site. In early October, Cate’s trustees broke ground for the building’s new and third location, several hundred feet due east from where it currently stands. The structure will be fitted with an addition and will be designated as the Williams House, in honor of Headmaster Ben Williams, who joined Cate in 1998.

“This house honors a man who in the past 15 years has brought Cate to a new and better place in every way,” said President of Cate’s Board of Trustees Monique Parsons ’84. “Ben’s true legacy goes beyond brick and mortar; it lies in the more than 1,000 students and scores of faculty members who have thrived here under his leadership.

She also credited the donors who made the project possible, galvanized by trustees David Horowitz, Dan Emmett ’99 and Scott Brittingham along with a substantial anonymous gift and support from current and past trustees. “Their example,” said Parsons, “inspired so many others to go above and beyond their previous generous commitments to Cate.”

Trustee Nelson Jones ’48 was present for the groundbreaking, and noted that when he was a student, he helped disassemble the building before it was hoisted onto a truck and moved slowly up the hill.

An old issue of the School’s newspaper El Batidor, housed in the archives, tells the story of the relocation: “…many speculations were made as to how it was to arrive at the top…The house looked wider than the road, and since it is of good length, the sharp corners must have presented difficulties…however no mishaps occurred, and at 11:15 of this memorable day, the less studious minded saw the roof, above the trees, passing along the road.”

Since its arrival at the top of the hill, the original library, with added rooms, has housed some nine faculty families. The Swain/Sommers family will move to Williams House when it is completed in February.

The site of the previous building will be home to the new admission office, with construction due to begin next year.


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