Chick-fil-A has spent about $18 million to renovate Berry’s old Normandy buildings — the long-time home of the school’s dairy — during the past year. The company now will run the WinShape Retreat Center, primarily as a marriage seminar and ministry center.
“We felt like God has given us a vision for this,” said Cathy, who led Chick-fil-A’s effort to find a use for the 70-year-old buildings.
More than 200 people gathered on Wednesday to tour the retreat center and observe a dedication ceremony, including comments from Berry officials, Cathy and his father, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy.
“It’s my vision that we continue on the vision of Martha Berry to minister to other people, not to be ministered to,” Truett Cathy said.
The retreat center also will host the WinShape girls camp during the summer.
The renovated buildings maintain the French-style architecture of their 1930s construction and include lodging, meeting rooms, a conference hall, a café, a spa and a dining hall.
Two new buildings also were constructed in the same architectural style — conveniently, they were on the Normandy complex’s original 1930s plans but were never built until now.
The buildings housed the school’s dairy until 2001, when the college decided to scale back dairy operations and move them to the main campus with an existing beef cattle research facility.
At Wednesday’s dedication, former dairy supervisor Marshall Bryan told the crowd that the dairy made a difference in the lives of the students who worked there for almost seven decades.
“It will now be utilized for a different purpose, one that will also change lives — saving marriages,” Bryan said.
The WinShape Retreat Center project marks a continuing relationship between Chick-fil-A and Berry College that began in 1984, when the restaurant company began a WinShape scholarship program at the school.
The program now offers scholarships to 125 students a year.
The WinShape Foundation also hosts a summer camp at Berry and operates three foster homes on the college’s mountain campus