Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Celebrating a History of Bold Thinking


Antonio Viva - Head of School

When people find out that Walnut Hill wasn’t always an arts school, they are often surprised to know that we were once one of only a handful of girls’ boarding schools in New England founded during the late 19th century. The origin story for Walnut Hill is, at its core, one of mavericks and trailblazers, and most of all an interesting case study of women in leadership positions at a time when they were not even allowed the opportunity to vote. This humble beginning by our founders, Charlotte Conant and Florence Bigelow, paved the way for a century of leadership that provided the foundation for the Walnut Hill that stands today. 

It’s true that our story has survived two world wars and two major economic downturns. It is also true that our history includes a second origin story, one that again reflects bold and visionary leadership. The genesis of our identity as an arts school did not come at the expense of being a girls’ boarding school. On the contrary, it shaped the core of who we would become, and that spirit of growth and innovation endures in many ways on campus today. It is for these reasons and more that this celebratory 125th year comes at the most opportune time, as we find ourselves again as a school set against the backdrop of shifting social norms, threats to basic human rights, intolerance, and the pressures of globalization. 

Our quasquicentennial year has been filled with moments of joy and celebration. We have traveled to more than 20 cities around the globe. We have met with alums, past and present parents, friends, and former faculty and staff. I have been deeply moved by the many stories and memories that people have shared with me about their time as part of our amazing community. I want to thank all those who participated, either in person or online, and I also want to thank the hundreds of donors who helpfully acknowledged this anniversary milestone throughout the year. Your support has given us the ability to start implementing many new projects and initiatives. 

In the meantime, I invite you to engage with us in the future. If you are in the Natick area, we encourage you to stop by and say hello or take in a performance or an exhibit in the fall. If distance keeps you away, please be sure to follow us online and enjoy one of our many performances via livestreaming (link to or social media. Thank you, once again, for being an integral part of our shared past, and I look forward to connecting with you in the future.



Antonio Viva

Head of School

Learn more about Walnut Hill's 125th Anniversary