Chestnut Hill Academy

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Chestnut Hill Academy
Head of schoolJanet givanazzo (lower)
Joshe Budde( middle)
Marty Baumberger and Christine Heine (upper)
HeadmasterStephen Druggan
Average class size65
Student to teacher ratio12.1
Color(s)Light Blue and Dark Blue
AthleticsInter-Academic League
MascotBlue Devils
Wissahickon Inn
Wissahickon Inn, Philadelphia, HABS PA-1720-2.jpg
Wissahickon Inn, now Chestnut Hill Academy, Philadelphia, PA (1883-84, G.W. & W.D. Hewitt, architects).
Chestnut Hill Academy is located in Pennsylvania
Chestnut Hill Academy
Location500 W. Willow Grove Ave.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ArchitectG.W. & W.D. Hewitt
Architectural styleQueen Anne.
NRHP reference #79002333[1]
Added to NRHPDecember 6, 1979

Chestnut Hill Academy (CHA) is an all-male Pre-K through 12 independent college preparatory school located in northwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1861, CHA is the oldest all-boys school in Greater Philadelphia, and has since been a pioneer in non-sectarian single-sex education in the country.

CHA's sister school is the all-girls Springside School. Although an all-boys school, CHA students in the upper school (grades 9-12) take coeducational classes with Springside students through the Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy, which is the unified upper school of CHA and Springside.[2]


The school's main building at 500 West Willow Grove Avenue was formerly known as the Wissahickon Inn. Designed by G.W. & W.D. Hewitt and built by Henry H. Houston, the Inn opened for business in 1884. Houston also built the Philadelphia Cricket Club across the street, and additional land across the street played host to the Philadelphia Horse Show (now the Devon Horse Show). These were popular attractions for Houston's 3,000-acre (12 km2) real estate development, and brought much business to the Inn.

In 1897, the Inn's business began to decline when the Philadelphia Horse Show moved, and improved transportation caused guests to seek more distant travel spots. In 1898, Chestnut Hill Academy moved to the Wissahickon Inn from its previous residence on 8030 Germantown Avenue. The school and the Inn functioned simultaneously, the school making use of the inn's facilities during its off season, and the Inn doing business when students had gone home for the summer. The Wissahickon Inn closed in 1901, and Chestnut Hill Academy took permanent possession of the property.

The Wissahickon Inn is listed on National Register of Historic Places, and the school retains many of the Inn's original structures today.[3]


The school's curriculum is focused in the liberal arts and sciences, with elective courses offered in several fields including computer science, engineering, and the arts. The school offers French, Latin, and Spanish language studies beginning in seventh grade, as well as Chinese language courses beginning in the first year of upper school. All CHA students are required to take an English course every year. Unlike most other private schools in the Delaware Valley, SCH Academy still offers an Advanced Placement curriculum.[4]


Chestnut Hill Academy's athletic teams play in the Inter-Academic League (Inter-ac) which, since its inception in 1887, remains the nation's oldest interscholastic athletic conference.

While the nickname for all the school's teams has been the Hillers since before 1900, a more popular choice, a version of the "Duke Blue Devils", has been the school's mascot since 1982.

Chestnut Hill emerged as one of the most vaunted soccer programs in Pennsylvania under celebrated coach Jim Talbot during the late 1980s, winning eight consecutive Inter-Ac championships between 1987 and 1994.

The Blue Devils would go another five seasons before their next Inter-Ac title, winning consecutive league crowns in 1999 and 2000 under Bob DiBenedetto. Among the star players on these teams were Dan Gargan, class of 2001, who went on to play for Georgetown and the Colorado Rapids, and Jeff Larentowicz, class of 2001, who played for Brown and the New England Revolution.

CHA's crew has sent several boats to Nationals and produced several collegiate and Olympic-level rowers, including J. Adam Holland. In 2006, 12 of 13 boats made it to the finals of the Philadelphia City Championship.

In middle school, students are required to play three sports a year, one for each trimester/athletic season. In their high school years, students may play fewer.


The Upper School division's drama group, The Players, puts on two productions per school year. A Middle School drama program for grades 7–8 mounts two productions during the winter, when The Players are not in season.

The main performance space is the Albert B. Conkey Center for the Performing Arts, also called "the Rec", and formerly a stable for the Wissahickon Inn.

Boys in grades 3–8 may participate in the CHA Boychoir, which performs a concert in the winter season and a musical production in the spring. The school's men's a cappella singing group, the "Hilltones", is open to students in grades 10–12 who pass an audition. The group often sings at major school events and elsewhere. It frequently performs with Springside School's a cappella group, "Laurelei." Together, the Hilltones and Laurelei form a coed ensemble known as the Chamber Singers.


The school's Rorer Center for Science and Technology, completed in 2009,[5] is the first LEED-certified school building in the Philadelphia area.[citation needed] The center, which houses the school's science and robotics programs, offers working demonstrations of some of the latest environmental technologies and practices (e.g., pervious parking lot, graywater system) as well as visible connections to the local habitat through its native species arboretum and a mural of the Wissahickon watershed that features local flora and fauna.

Within months of the building's opening, the FIRST Robotics Team took a first place at the Pittsburgh Regional and went on to finish third in the World Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.[citation needed] The team also took first place at the Philadelphia Regional in its first year, and a second-place finish at the 2004 FIRST Robotics World Championships in Houston, Texas.[citation needed]

The school's 19th-century main building was one of the filming locations for the motion picture Stealing Home.[citation needed] The film's director, Steven Kampmann, is a graduate of the School, and the film featured then-student Thacher Goodwin as the young version of Mark Harmon's character.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "SCH Academy - K-12 Private School in Philadelphia". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2007-02-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Curriculum Detail". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2009-07-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Hepp, Christopher. "Penn's Isaac Starr, 94, Pioneer In Cardiology". The Inquirer. Retrieved 27 October 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°03′44″N 75°12′31″W / 40.0622°N 75.2086°W / 40.0622; -75.2086