History & Traditions


Mercersburg’s proud history and rich traditions date back to 1836, when the Academy’s predecessor, Marshall College, was founded at Mercersburg.

Marshall College moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1853, but the preparatory department of the college remained on its original site. It was chartered as Mercersburg College in 1865. In 1893, Mercersburg’s Board of Regents elected William Mann Irvine to lead the institution. Within months, Dr. Irvine renamed the school Mercersburg Academy and reorganized it as a college-preparatory school based on the Exeter model.

Dr. Irvine launched the new school in fall 1893 with 40 boys, four instructors, and four acres of leased ground. Mercersburg rapidly grew in size and stature, gaining regional and national recognition as a top college-preparatory boarding school with strong ties to Princeton University.

Mercersburg alumni contribute remarkable gifts to their communities. We count among us seven Rhodes scholars, three recipients of the Medal of Honor, a Nobel laureate, 54 Olympians, and two Academy Award winners.

Through the Depression and World War II, the Academy prospered. In 1969, Mercersburg embraced coeducation, and the campus and the school’s offerings continued to grow. Among the improvements during the 1972–1997 tenure of Headmaster Walter H. Burgin Jr. ’53 was the construction of Lenfest Hall, the Academy’s 45,000-volume library.

Douglas Hale served as head of school from 1997 to 2016, launching remarkable growth and success. During Hale’s tenure, Mercersburg completed extensive renovations to its residence halls and constructed the sparkling Burgin Center for the Arts and Simon Student Center; expanded the academic program to include more than 40 AP, post-AP, and honors courses; established formal exchange programs with schools in five different countries; and completed two enormously successful capital campaigns.

Katherine Titus was appointed Mercersburg’s seventh head of school in 2016. She was most recently associate head for school life at St. George’s School in Middletown, R.I., where she had also served as dean of students and assistant head for student life before assuming the duties of associate head there. She scored more than 1,000 points and captained the women’s basketball team at Middlebury College, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Titus also holds a master’s in educational leadership from Columbia University.

Today, Mercersburg Academy offers a dynamic academic program to a diverse and close-knit community of learners. On a magnificent campus, students learn to think for themselves as they prepare for purposeful lives in a global community.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
100 Academy Drive, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236