Harvard School, a military boarding school with 42 boys, was established in 1900 by Grenville C. Emery in a barley field at what is now the corner of Western Avenue and Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. Mr. Emery received permission from Charles W. Eliot, Harvard University President, to use the Harvard name. By the mid 1920s Harvard had outgrown its original campus. Following the vision of two-time Headmaster Bishop Robert Gooden, the school borrowed $25,000 from aviation pioneer Donald Douglas and moved to the defunct Hollywood Country Club on Coldwater Canyon in 1937. By the time Thomas Hudnut became headmaster in 1987, Harvard had transformed into a day school, had set aside its military program, and had an enrollment that exceeded 800.


In 1904, Jessica Smith Vance and Frederica de Laguna opened the doors of Westlake School for Girls on Sixth Street and Alvarado Street, named for its location near Westlake Park in Los Angeles, now known as MacArthur Park.

In 1927, Miss Vance and Miss de Laguna acquired land on North Faring Road in Holmby Hills from Harold Janss. In 1966, Nathan O. Reynolds (Harvard School Class of 1951) became the first male to head Westlake and enrollment reached 700 during the 1970s.


In October 1989, the Boards of Trustees of Harvard and Westlake agreed to merge the schools, with Tom Hudnut serving as Harvard-Westlake’s first Headmaster. Full coeducation began in September 1991, with an enrollment approaching 1600, grades 7 - 9 at Westlake's North Faring Road location and grades 10 - 12 at Harvard's Coldwater Canyon campus. 

  • To learn more about the history of Westlake School, click here to view the Westlake School interactive archives.
  • To learn more about the history of Harvard, Westlake, and Harvard-Westlake Schools, please click here to view an electronic version of the book Harvard-Westlake: A History.
  • To learn more about the Great Teachers who have taught at Harvard, Westlake, and Harvard-Westlake Schools, please click here to view the Great Teachers page.