The Handley legacy focuses on the heritage of the school as central civic institution and a focus of regional programs and pageantry

The City of Winchester, Virginia recognized in 1923 how remarkable it was to have the only privately endowed public school in Virginia. Designed by well-known Cleveland architect Walter McCornack,the Handley High School building was conceived with powerful progressive education ideals at its core. The 11th grade class of 1998 helped put the school on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Handley legacy focuses on the heritage of the school as central civic institution and a focus of regional programs and pageantry. The majestic landscape and powerful facade of the school, in many ways, make an amazing “educational promise” to the surrounding community. Despite a wealth of dedicated educators over its eighty years, the school building fell into disrepair and suffered from a series of unfortunate additions---including a 1978 expansion that infilled three of its signature “court” spaces with windowless classrooms. As a result, as one entered through the front portico in 2003, the school no longer delivered on that promise.

Winchester Public Schools renewed its commitment to the city’s only high school by accommodating new enrollment growth with a multi-phased, addition and renovation project (all executed while the school was occupied). The design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions. The original Gymnasium would become a Library and Media Center; the “Play Court” would become a new Student Commons; finally, the “Nature Study Court” would become a Student Union / Café, providing students with desirable dining options. In addition, a new Center for Science and Technology was carefully woven into the building’s historic grain.

The City of Winchester, Virginia recognized in 1923 how remarkable it was to have the only privately endowed public school in Virginia. Designed by well-known Cleveland architect Walter McCornack,the Handley High School building was conceived with powerful progressive education ideals at its core. The 11th grade class of 1998 helped put the school on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Handley legacy focuses on the heritage of the school as central civic institution and a focus of regional programs and pageantry. The majestic landscape and powerful facade of the school, in many ways, make an amazing “educational promise” to the surrounding community. Despite a wealth of dedicated educators over its eighty years, the school building fell into disrepair and suffered from a series of unfortunate additions---including a 1978 expansion that infilled three of its signature “court” spaces with windowless classrooms. As a result, as one entered through the front portico in 2003, the school no longer delivered on that promise.

Winchester Public Schools renewed its commitment to the city’s only high school by accommodating new enrollment growth with a multi-phased, addition and renovation project (all executed while the school was occupied). The design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions. The original Gymnasium would become a Library and Media Center; the “Play Court” would become a new Student Commons; finally, the “Nature Study Court” would become a Student Union / Café, providing students with desirable dining options. In addition, a new Center for Science and Technology was carefully woven into the building’s historic grain.

Winchester Public Schools renewed its commitment to the city’s only high school by accommodating new enrollment growth with a multi-phased, addition and renovation project (all executed while the school was occupied).
he design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions.

“For 87 years, members of the community have looked to the west and found in that skyline the iconic image of the cupola- the columns, the steps and thought about all that they represent- the commitment to public education, excellence in teaching and learning, character through sportsmanship, and the nurture and development of our most valuable resource- our students. For our students, this is the place, the very spot, where they walk into life and cross the threshold into their journey along life’s way. And, as they pass in between those columns, they see our community, the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and truly begin to look towards the future with hope, inspiration, potentials to be fulfilled, and the realization of dreams.”

– Doug Joiner Former Principal, John Handley High School
he design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions.
he design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions.
he design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions.
John Handley High School
he design approach preserved all of the building’s remaining historic elements and carefully restored them with the aid of tax credits. For those spaces that had been destroyed or compromised, an inventive educational program sparked a series of new interventions.

Client: Winchester Public Schools

Location: Winchester, VA

Discipline: Middle & High Schools

Completion: 2010

Size: 29,775 SF New Construction 266,267 SF Renovation

Awards Received

2012 Honor Award
AIA Central Virginia

2011 Honorable Mention
Learning by Design

2010 Platinum Design Award
Virginia School Boards Association

2010 “People’s Choice” Award
Virginia School Boards Association

2005 Distinguished Design Award
Virginia School Boards Association