Our Heritage


You join a rich heritage when you become a part of the Southwestern Academy family.

In 1888, our six-acre campus in San Marino was part of the greater Los Robles Ranch settled by George Stoneman, a former general in the Union Army who would later become governor of California. There were no homes in sight, just orange and avocado trees on the acreage of the ranch. A dirt path, later named Monterey Road, wound through the trees from the nearby settlement of South Pasadena.

In the early 1900s, Stoneman hired famous architect Myron Hunt to design a home that would become the cornerstone of the ranch; that building still stands today as our Pioneer Hall.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, it was 1892 when Maurice Veronda and his family emigrated from the mountains of northwest Italy, to mine coal in the eastern United States. When the Verondas transplanted to California, Maurice purchased the Los Robles Ranch, and on April 7, 1924, he began building the foundations of a school that he named Southwestern Military Academy.

The first building to be constructed was Lincoln Hall, built by the school’s earliest students and faculty, and was completed in 1925. California and Illinois dormitories, with their distinctive central tower, came next, followed by Washington Gymnasium. Horses were kept in the stables located between the gymnasium and the chapel.

By the 1930s, international students began to attend Southwestern, traveling by train from Mexico and Central America, or by ship from Asia and Europe. During World War II, with so many adults called away to volunteer for the war effort, hundreds of young boys and girls took up residence on the school grounds.
In the following years, the school dropped its military heritage and focused on broadening its academic programs to an even larger population of local and international students. Having successfully ushered in the school’s new identity, it was a great loss when in the early 1960s, Maurice passed away suddenly.
It would be his son, Kenneth, who took up the mantle of Headmaster while still in his twenties. For the next 58 years, Ken Veronda dedicated his life to continuing his father’s vision of a school that would prepare young people to succeed in studies, careers, and life beyond education.

In July of 2020, after almost six decades of service, Ken Veronda stepped down as Headmaster. In his place, Ms. Robin Jarchow became just the third Head of School / CEO in Southwestern’s history, and the first woman to be appointed to the position.

Since its founding in 1924, over 7,500 boys and girls have studied at Southwestern Academy. The opportunity is yours to take; you can join a near century of tradition and heritage. Your presence will be become part of this school, and the school shall become a part of you.

Welcome to Southwestern Academy!