Over 150 Years of Educating Young Women
Founded in 1865 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacred Heart Heart Academy Bryn Mawr traces its roots to 1865, when Bishop James Wood, who in 1875 would go on to become the first archbishop of Philadelphia, petitioned the religious of the Society of the Sacred Heart - who operated schools worldwide - to open a school for, "Catholic young ladies," in the city of Philadelphia. Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress and Superior General of the Society, who was later canonized, gave the institution her blessing. In 1865, the Society of the Sacred Heart founded The Philadelphia Day School of the Sacred Heart in a rented house in Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, the school moved to the Edwards House at 1334 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. The school remained on Walnut Street until 1886, when it moved to a newly-constructed building at 1819 Arch Street, and was renamed Convent of the Sacred Heart.
The school remained at Arch Street until 1924, when it moved to its Overbrook campus at the corner of City Line Avenue and Haverford Road. In 1969, the Religious of the Sacred Heart found it necessary to discontinue operations in Philadelphia and to close “Overbrook.” Interested parents, alumnae, and staff successfully petitioned the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Superior General of the Society to continue Sacred Heart education under a lay board and faculty. Since that time the school has operated under the administration of the Country Day School at Overbrook foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation.
In 1978, the school moved to Hillbrook House, a sixteen-acre estate in Bryn Mawr, once owned by the Blabon-Dixon family. The new campus consisted of a Tudor Mansion, built in 1908, and a red brick building known as the School House. In 1982, the Marie Cornelia Dooley Building was built to house classrooms, laboratories, a multimedia center and a gymnasium.
In 1999, the school was admitted to full membership in the international Network of Sacred Heart Schools, reuniting the school with its roots and strengthening its connection to the sister Sacred Heart schools in North America and in 44 countries around the globe.Sacred Heart fills an important niche as the only Catholic girls' K-12 school in the Philadelphia region to operate all divisions on a single campus.
Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr and the Sacred Heart Network is celebrating Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, a pioneer missionary of the Society of the Sacred Heart, who came to St. Charles, Missouri, from France and founded the first free school west of the Mississippi in September 1818.