1866-70: William Fowler Gardner 1857
"Mr. Gardner took The High School in the morning of a new day after a dark night of tragic warfare, and in spite of many discouragements and scant resources, he did what God is forever doing, beginning again, getting new mornings out of old nights. Think of the conditions when that old School was reborn. In this School, God began all over again. He is still at it in individuals and institutions of good learning." - Jacob Brittingham, Class of 1872
The Civil War took a significant toll on the School. EHS was occupied by Union troops; its buildings served as a Union hospital, and the chapel was used as a morgue. When the war ended, the facilities were in shambles and funds were in desperately short supply.
An Old Boy, William Fowler Gardner, Class of 1857, opened the School as Principal to 18 students despite dire circumstances. Richard Pardee Williams, Class of 1904, and Principal from 1947-51, conveyed, “Mr. Gardner took a badly rundown plant, rehabilitated it at considerable cost to himself, and turned it over to the Trustees in operating condition. Our debt to Mr. Gardner has not yet been paid. Perhaps it is so great it can never be paid.”
James R. Winchester, Class of 1869, recalled, “I had been at a Calvinistic school in the North where conversation at table was forbidden and a joyous laugh was regarded as criminal. Then my choice fell upon the diocesan School of Virginia with the Reverend William F. Gardner at its head. Religion was with him joy and gladness, and he wore a smile of peace which seemed banished from the other school.”