A View of Villanova
award-winning Villanova University Virtual Tour of our campus and the surrounding
Villanova University has been sponsored by the Augustinian Order since its
founding in 1842. Today, the University is comprised of five colleges: Liberal
Arts and Sciences, Engineering, School of Business, Nursing and the School of
Law. The University traces its origins to old Saint Augustine’s Church in
Philadelphia, which the Augustinians founded in 1796, and to its parish school,
Saint Augustine’s Academy, established in 1811.
Villanova University is located 15 miles west of center city Philadelphia on
a 255-acre campus in the scenic and historic Main Line suburbs near Valley
Forge, Pennsylvania. The campus grounds reflect every bit of Villanova's 160+
year history with buildings that can be described as anything from modern works
of art to well-preserved masterpieces.
The campus is only ˝ mile from I-476 and a few minutes from the PA Turnpike
(I-76). There is a commuter train station on campus. It is a 30-minute trip
downtown with a direct connection on to the Philadelphia Airport-bound train. In
the immediate area, stores and restaurants are in plentiful supply along
Villanova's Lancaster Pike (US Rte 30) location. In addition, the campus is a
15-minute car ride to the largest mall, King of Prussia, on the East Coast, two
hours to New York and Baltimore, about one hour (west) to the Pennsylvania Dutch
Country, and less than two hours (east) to Atlantic City, NJ.
The Main Line
Once home to the Lenni Lenape Indians, the land was first settled in
1663-1665 by a group of Quakers from Radnorshire, Wales. Seeking religious
freedom, the settlers immigrated to a 5,000 acre section they purchased from
William Penn, which had been granted him by the Crown. Radnor Township,
Villanova University, was officially founded in 1682 in what was known at the
time as Penn's Greene Countrie.
Through the Revolutionary War, the area was a no-man's land between
Philadelphia to the east and Valley Forge to the west. It was the site of
several skirmishes between George Washington's Continental Army and the British.
One of the inns along the way, the "Sorrel Horse", is said to have sheltered
General Washington and General Lafayette during the encampment at Valley Forge,
1777-1778. The inn still stands today on the campus of the Agnes Irwin School,
about one-half mile from the University.
Years later, traffic and development came to what would become the Main Line
area with the opening in 1794 of a macadam toll road heading west out of
Philadelphia, the Lancaster Turnpike, the first toll road in America. The
University is located on this Lancaster Pike, US Route 30, although it is now a
commercial thoroughfare. It was in 1842 that the first of many great local
country estates was converted to institutional use when the Brothers of the
Order of Hermits of St. Augustine established the Catholic College of St. Thomas
of Villanova, now Villanova University.
The name "Main Line" is the title given to the group of suburban communities
west of Philadelphia. The communities grew along the main line of the
Pennsylvania Railroad which came through Villanova in 1832. It was originally
built by wealthy industrialists to ease their commute from Philadelphia to their
country homes, gentleman farms and summer residences.
The railroad, which
transported goods and mail as well as people, quickly prospered as did the
surrounding developments and businesses.
Today there is a potpourri of communities (Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford,
Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, Villanova, St. Davids, Wayne, etc.) named after the
railroad stations, preserving the ambience and beauty of the area; all within
easy commute to center city Philadelphia. The townships and local communities
have worked diligently to preserve open space and the natural greenery, and the
Villanova University campus handsomely reflects this heritage.