Malvern Prep is the direct continuation of the academy program founded in 1842 by the Augustinians as the preparatory school for what is now Villanova University.
The Augustinian community purchased the farm called Belle-Aire in January 1842, to establish a college and monastery under the patronage of St. Thomas of Villanova. During the next year, Rev. John O'Dwyer, the first president, worked tirelessly to get the school up and running, and traveled to Europe in search of qualified faculty. On St. Augustine's Day, August 28, 1843, the school's first Mass was celebrated; and the seven students that year were all under the age of 16. The original academy building, built in 1848, is now called Alumni Hall, and stands just behind the Chapel at Villanova University.
Villanova did not grant its first college degree until 1857. As the school grew and modern education began to take its present form, a distinction grew between the "academy boys", the "college boys", and the "seminarians". In 1901, the academy was named St. Nicholas of Tolentine Academy, and in 1922 the college program was expanded. The decision was made to move the academy program from the college campus. About the same time, the Rosengarten family of Malvern planned to sell part of its holdings located on Warren Avenue and Paoli Pike. Thus in 1922, because of the Augustinian need and the availability of 143 acres in historic Chester County, the academy relocated to its current setting. The academy changed its name to Villanova Preparatory School in the early 1920's, which began the gradual phasing out of the old academy.
The school was soon renamed Malvern Preparatory School to reflect its geographical location and give the school its own identity.
Malvern Prep graduated its first class in 1926. Located northwest of Malvern's property is the site of the Paoli Massacre during the Revolution, making it a central point for historical interest. Malvern Prep owned the 40-acre landmark until 2000 when it was purchased and preserved as a National Historic property. Although only two buildings on the Rosengarten estate could be used for school purposes - Austin Hall (the original farmhouse) and the St. Augustine Friary (farm building) - they were more than ample in providing classroom and living space for the predominantly boarding student body of 19 and the original faculty of three Augustinians and a layman.
Today, the school's 103-acre campus is home to a number of buildings, including separate Middle and Upper School academic facilities, a state-of-the-art O'Neill Sports Center, Our Mother of Good Counsel Chapel, an outdoor classroom powered by solar panels, the Duffy Arts Center, The St. Augustine Center for Social Impact, extensive playing fields and athletic facilities, two ponds used for scientific investigation, beautiful green spaces, and a community garden.
Malvern is a proud part of the Augustinian heritage that dates back to St. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 A.D.), a North African Christian, Priest, and Bishop. Augustine developed a spirituality and pedagogy that transcends his lifetime and was formally established in the 13th century when his followers, at the encouragement of the papacy, established the Order of St. Augustine (O.S.A.). This order is now worldwide and came to the United States in 1796 with the arrival of Irish Friars to Philadelphia at St. Augustine Church. The American Province established a college and high school in Radnor Township in 1842 and named it Villanova College, in honor of the Spanish Augustinian Friar, St. Thomas of Villanova. Malvern traces its heritage to that point, although it moved to its current location in Malvern, Chester County in the 1920's.