Portsmouth Abbey School

Portsmouth Abbey School is a coeducational Benedictine boarding and day school for students in grades 9 to 12. Founded in 1926 by the English Benedictine community, the School is located on a 525-acre campus along Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay.

Portsmouth Abbey School
Aerial View PAS.jpg
285 Corys Lane

, ,

United States
Coordinates41°36′12″N 71°16′19″W / 41.60333°N 71.27194°W / 41.60333; -71.27194Coordinates: 41°36′12″N 71°16′19″W / 41.60333°N 71.27194°W / 41.60333; -71.27194
TypePrivate, day & boarding, college-prep
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic,
HeadmasterDaniel McDonough[1]
Enrollment355[2] (2015–2016)
Average class size14
Color(s)   Red and black
Athletics conferenceEastern Independent League
Sports45 athletics teams in 16 sports
AccreditationNew England Association of Schools and Colleges[3]
PublicationThe Raven (Literary Magazine)
Portsmouth Abbey School Alumni Bulletin
NewspaperThe Beacon
YearbookThe Gregorian
School fees$63,050/boarding year


The school and monastery are located on land originally owned by the Freeborn family beginning in the 1650s. The land was later owned by the Anthony family, and in 1778 it was the site of the Battle of Rhode Island during the American Revolution. In 1864, Amos Smith, a Providence financier, built what is now known as the Manor House and created a gentleman's farm on the site with the help of architect Richard Upjohn. After buying the Manor House and surrounding land in 1918, Dom Leonard Sargent of Boston, a convert from the Episcopal Church, founded Portsmouth Priory on October 18, 1918. The priory was founded as, and remains, a house of the English Benedictine Congregation. It is one of only three American houses in the congregation, and maintains a unique connection with sister schools in England, including Ampleforth College and Downside School.

The school was founded as Portsmouth Priory by John Hugh Diman, a Benedictine monk, and a former Episcopalian. Portsmouth was not Diman's first school. In 1896, Diman founded Diman's School for Small Boys - later, St. George's School - in Middletown, Rhode Island. In 1912, aware that St. George's School catered to the sons of more affluent families and eager to provide educational opportunities to working-class students, Diman founded the Diman Vocational School in Fall River, MA. A conversion experience brought Diman to Catholicism and ultimately to the Benedictines who were just beginning a priory in Portsmouth. After joining the Order of Saint Benedict, Diman was again moved to found a school. In 1926, Diman founded the Portsmouth Priory School, which would be redesignated as Portsmouth Abbey School - indicating the increased size of its monastic community - in 1969.[citation needed]

Originally, Portsmouth Priory offered a classical education to boys. Using the British "public" school model, the Priory School employed a form system, and supplemented a student's education with co-curricular activities, such as athletics and the arts. The same British system along with an updated and much expanded selection of co-curricular offerings are still at the core of a Portsmouth Abbey School education today.

The school's campus is located on more than 525 acres (2.12 km2) on the shores of Narragansett Bay. Many of the buildings were designed by post-modern architect Pietro Belluschi, dean of the architecture and planning school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A parcel of the school's land is leased to The Aquidneck Club (formerly the Carnegie Abbey Club) where the student golf team practices and holds its interscholastic golf matches.[4]

Portsmouth Abbey School todayEdit

Today the school, often referred to as "the Abbey," has students from 17 nations and 26 states.[5] Its enrollment totals over 350 students, living in the school's eight residential Houses or commuting from nearby towns.

Internet access is available in computer labs and all House libraries. The average size for a class is 12 to 14 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 7 to 1. Activities and clubs include the Appalachia Service Project, The Beacon (the student newspaper), The Raven (the art and literary magazine), Scriptorium (scholarly journal), The Gregorian (yearbook), Model United Nations, New England Math League, Future Problem Solvers, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Community Service Projects, Debate Club, Red Key (campus tour guides), Social Committee, Astronomy Club, Peer Tutors, Pro Deo Orchestra, Student Athletic Advisory Board, Teens Leading Children (TLC), and Student Council. The school also has a fine arts center, a photography lab and darkroom, a digital art studio, an art gallery (which alternatively displays traveling exhibits and selected student work), a drama program (which produces three plays per year, including the annual musical), a music tech lab, voice and instrumental offerings, and private music lessons.

In 2006, the school installed a Vestas V47-660 kW wind turbine, the first such project in Rhode Island,[6][7][8] to provide forty percent of the school's electricity.

Other green initiatives at Portsmouth Abbey School include the construction of two energy efficient faculty residences in September 2011, "unfolded" on campus by Blu Homes, a company building eco-friendly, prefabricated homes.

In addition, one of Portsmouth Abbey School's girls' residential houses, St. Brigid's, and the newest boys' residential house, St. Martin's, employ a number of conservation features, including recycled wood and low-VOC construction materials; hot-water solar panels; flooring materials from renewable and recycled sources; energy-recovery ventilators; low-flow shower heads and toilets; and high-efficiency/low-emission Viessmann boilers. In 2019, the School completed construction of a 34,123 square-foot LEED Gold certified science building.

Portsmouth Abbey School's security and maintenance departments operate two electric vehicles on campus, and the School's dining services department has implemented a "tray-less" dining program, a composting program, and a partnership with Newport Biodiesel (the School provides the waste cooking oil used by its dining services to Newport Biodiesel for clean-burning alternative fuel).

Each office on campus maintains paper and plastic recycling bins, and the Portsmouth Abbey School Alumni Bulletin, the School's bi-annual magazine, is printed on FSC-certified paper, a product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sources.


In addition to The Aquidneck Club golf course next door available for use by the faculty and by the golf team, the school's athletic facilities include eight squash courts and a fitness center, a six-lane, all-weather track, a multi-sport synthetic turf field, six tennis courts, an indoor ice hockey rink, two gymnasiums, and multiple outdoor playing fields.

Portsmouth Abbey is a member of the Eastern Independent League and has occasional contests against ISL (Independent School League) schools and other non-league boarding and day schools in New England. The Abbey's rivals include St. George's School and Pomfret School. Teams include a sailing team, golf team, wrestling team, squash team, tennis team, lacrosse team, softball team, field hockey team, baseball team, cross country team, basketball team, track & field teams, and a football team. Equestrian activities are offered at Abbey Club's Equestrian Center adjacent to the School. Portsmouth Abbey School's co-ed varsity sailors were New England champions in 2009, 2010 and 2013; they competed in Nationals in four of the past five years, earning 4th Place nationally in 2013.


The school has a number of traditions such as the Raven Cup, a year-long school-spirit competition among the student residential houses; a six-day week with classes on Saturday mornings followed by athletics games; the Headmaster's Run, an annual all-School run through the fall campus; and a required year of Latin language study.

In the center of the School campus is a large quadrangle called the Holy Lawn that is used exclusively for commencement exercises.

Notable art on campusEdit

Richard Lippold's Trinity after Restoration by Newmans LTD

The Abbey's Church of St. Gregory the Great contains a wire sculpture titled Trinity, created by the late American sculptor Richard Lippold in 1960. The sculpture is made of a 22,000 foot web of gold plated wire surrounding a gold and silver Crucifix, created by Meinrad Burch. The sculpture underwent an award-winning restoration in 2009, carried out by Newmans’ Ltd., of Newport, Rhode Island.[9]

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "From Our Headmaster". Portsmouth Abbey School. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Search for Private Schools - School Detail for PORTSMOUTH ABBEY SCHOOL". nces.ed.gov. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  3. ^ NEASC-CIS. "NEASC-Commission on Independent Schools". Archived from the original on 16 June 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  4. ^ "Carnegie Abbey Club". Archived from the original on 24 October 2004. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Portsmouth Abbey School".
  6. ^ "U.S. Wind Energy Projects - Rhode Island". American Wind Energy Association. 19 November 2008. Archived from the original on 15 November 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Wind Powering America: New England Wind Project: Portsmouth Abbey". United States Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
  8. ^ Opalka, William (August 2006). "Wind Goes To School". North American Windpower. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
  9. ^ Newmans Ltd. Art Restoration
  10. ^ "Sleeples Draft Sleeper". Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Portsmouth Abbey School: Alumni Authors". www.portsmouthabbey.org. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015.
  12. ^ https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/people/james-d--farley--jr-.html
  13. ^ The Last Mountain
  14. ^ "Bill Haney". IMDb.
  15. ^ "Trump chooses Sean Spicer for press secretary, rounds out communications staff - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.

External linksEdit