A Gift to Welcome the World to Westminster from Olivia and John '64 Barge
John Barge ’64 and his wife Olivia have made a transformative gift to Westminster that will propel the School’s campus plan forward. In honor of their generosity, the building previously known as “Westminster Center” will bear the name Barge Commons in a few short weeks.
Barge Commons, designed as a place for Westminster to welcome the world as well as a home for leadership development and community engagement, sits at the head of the historic quad, a short walk from a newly built parking deck. Visible from the entire length of the quad, the building is designed to facilitate the many ways a Westminster education is enhanced by deep connection with the world beyond our gates.
John and Olivia, who was an active PAWS volunteer when their children attended Westminster, watched with interest as Westminster developed and began fulfilling a transformational campus plan.
“The campus plan builds on the original vision Dr. Pressly and others had from Westminster’s earliest days. We wanted to be part of that,” John says.
This isn't John’s first time naming something on Westminster’s campus. As Boys School newspaper editor-in-chief his senior year, he named the Westminster Bi-Line in 1963, when the newspapers from the Girls School and the Boys School merged.
John is one of 18 extended family members to attend Westminster, including his siblings and his two children, Brooks ’99 and Britney, to whose memory Barge Commons will be dedicated. John still speaks highly of teachers and mentors like his seventh grade teacher Jack Shields, calling him the most influential teacher in his life—John credits Mr. Shields’ teaching of mental math and other core math concepts as an academic foundation he has been able to use and build upon throughout his life.
So why Westminster, and why now? John doesn’t give just one answer. It’s the Barge family’s deep personal connections to the School community. It’s teachers like Jack Shields. The academic preparation that serves alumni throughout their entire lives. The campus plan, the Barge Commons building itself, the need for facilities that enable the teaching and learning of tomorrow.
And, with this gift, Olivia and John’s generosity furthers the “multiplier effect” that has motivated their involvement and their philanthropy: “Westminster deserves support because it develops students who go on to make a multitude of positive impacts through their leadership and character. Westminster is a school that gets better and better, and we hope to inspire other gifts so the School can continue to evolve and build on its already impressive legacy through community support.