Our History

In 1918, Dom Leonard Sargent was searching for a property on which to build a Benedictine monastery. Upon discovering a beautiful 70-acre plot on the shores of Narragansett Bay, he followed an old superstition and dropped a medal of St. Benedict in the field. Thus began the vision that came to fruition as Portsmouth Abbey and School, continuing the 1,500-year tradition of Benedictine spiritual devotion and dedication to learning and enlightenment.

Originally called Portsmouth Priory, the School officially opened with 18 students in September of 1926 and was one of three institutions founded by Father Hugh Diman, along with the Diman School (now St. George's) and Diman Vocational School of Fall River.Of the 27 buildings that comprise our 500-acre campus, 14 have been designed by the renowned modernist architect Pietro Belluschi who was part of the "Bauhaus" movement and head of urban planning and architecture at MIT. Portsmouth Abbey's Church of St. Gregory the Great is considered the most important piece of conservative modernist architecture in Rhode Island.

The School embraced coeducation for boarding and day students in 1991, and in 1998 recommitted itself to the Western intellectual tradition that is founded in teachings that date back to ancient Greece.

Today, Portsmouth Abbey School continues to flourish as the nation's leading coeducational Catholic Benedictine boarding school for 360 students in grades 9 through 12. Unique in its English Benedictine tradition, the School offers a challenging academic curriculum rich in mathematics and science and built upon a signature humanities program.

Additional features are our 45 athletics teams, diverse community service programs, many off-campus enrichment opportunities, a state-of-the-art squash and fitness center, a multi-sport synthetic turf field and world-class golf, sailing and equestrian facilities. Given the school's small size, students have the opportunity to become leaders and active members of the community.