Upon entering the Greenhill campus from Spring Valley Road, the first stop along Estelle Dickens Lane is the Foote Lower School. The home-base for students in Prekindergarten through 4th grade, the Foote Lower School is a four-building complex that is surrounded by a sprawling playground that would have made Greenhill's first Head of Preshool - Agnes Baldwin - green with envy. In October 2009, the school held a naming ceremony for the Lower School in honor of Phillip G. Foote, who served as Greenhill's second Head of School from 1976-92. Foote joined the Greenhill faculty in 1969 where he served as Head of Lower School and Middle School before being appointed Head of School in 1976 and being the catalyst to lead Greenhill to local, state and national prominence as an independent school.
Greenhill signed a historic land lease on January 7, 1985, that not only positioned the school to achieve a goal of raising median teacher salaries to the top-10 percent of all private schools in the nation, but also to refocus its efforts on building a new Lower School. While Greenhill’s leaders firmly believed that excellent education could take place inside a tent or in the shade of a tree, a facility commensurate with the excellent educational program of the Lower School had long been a priority of the board. Since the early 1970s, Greenhill’s Lower School had been housed in temporary buildings that, while utterly lacking any modern conveniences and features, were still home to many a fond memory. The trustees’ decision to break ground on the new Lower School in May 1985 before having all the funds in hand was based on complete confidence that the entire Greenhill community would respond positively and generously when approached for support. May 27, 1985, marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for Greenhill. As shovels broke ground on the long-awaited Lower School building, balloons lurched skyward, symbolizing the school’s soaring hopes for the future. During the preceding eighteen months, plans for the new facility had moved ahead steadily.
Greenhill hired the internationally-renowned New York City-based firm of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects to design the new structure. At that time, the firm had won more than forty-five design awards, including the 1982 Rising Architectural Firm Award - the highest honor given each year by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Gwathmey’s design of the new Lower School met two fundamental goals. First, it created a stimulating and flexible learning environment for the primer through the fourth grade. And second, the building became an integral part of the campus plan and character. Furthermore, the location of the building on campus created an enclosed playground for the Lower School and Preschool. At the time the new Lower School opened for the 1986–87 school year, it was the largest building on campus at 25,000 square feet, compared to the 18,000–square-foot Levy Middle School.
Today, the Foote Lower School is home to Greenhill students from Prekindergarten - 4th grade, but the students are divided into separate wings. The 1st - 4th grade wing is divided into two floors with two grade levels each occupying a level. The first floor contains separate areas for Primer, 1st and 2nd grade students along with classroom space for art, music, modern and classical languages, science as well as computer lab and kitchen area. The second floor houses 3rd and 4th grade students and has its own separate computer lab. A common meeting place at the steps of the building plays home to Lower School Assemblies. On each level of the building, there are also separate, private space for students who are in the need ot tutoring service.
While the Preschool and Lower School students each have their own separate building, they are connected by the Administrative Building that houses Greenhill's Head of Preschool and Head of Lower School. In addition, Greenhill's Child Development Center, Nurse's Office and Extended Day classrooms are also connected to the Foote Lower School.