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History of Brentwood

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In its relatively short history, Brentwood School has grown into a premier independent day school in Southern California. Founded as a non-profit corporation in 1972, Brentwood School acquired the Brentwood Military Academy, which had existed since 1902. Brentwood School opened in the fall of 1972 as a co-educational, college preparatory day school with grades 6-10. Grade 11 was added in fall 1973, and the school graduated its first senior class in June 1975.

produced by Brentwood School alum, Emily Frances Wolk '88 

Brentwood School Timeline


In early August 1972, the owners of the Urban Military Academy sold the property at 155 South Layton Drive to a non-profit organization and a Board of Directors was quickly assembled. The Board prepared for the establishment of Brentwood School, a traditional co-educational day school.

The Board determined that the school would open that fall, which allowed only 30 days to recruit teachers, enroll students, and refurbish the campus. Interested parents were asked to help clean, paint, and garden.

On schedule, the school opened in September 1972 with 8 staff, 13 faculty, and 121 students—mostly boys—in Grades 6-10. Grade 11 was added in fall 1973, Chuck Downes was named Head of School in 1974, and the school graduated its first senior class of 11 students in June 1975.


Hunter Temple was named Head of School in 1982. Groundbreaking began for construction of our new gymnasium and Lower School (now called Middle School) building. A vigorous capital campaign culminated with the dedication of the Shumway Gymnasium in 1984.


Brentwood School moved forward with plans for a new five-level building and the school’s second capital campaign was underway. The New Library/Science/Performing Arts Complex opened in March 1989.


The Board of Trustees began researching the feasibility of purchasing the Marymount Junior School campus at 12001 Sunset Blvd. That acquisition was finalized in 1994 and the property became the new home of our Lower School, grades K-6. Remodeling took place to prepare for the opening of classes in September 1995. Curriculum development and the hiring and admissions process began.

In the fall of 1995, our first K-12 Opening of School Ceremony included a procession of seniors (the Class of 1996) holding hands with Kindergarteners (the Class of 2008).

The East Campus Upper School Art Department was remodeled during the summer of 1995. That same year, construction of a new exit road began on property shared with the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration.


The school undertook its largest capital campaign to date to remodel the libraries on both campuses, build an Arts and Athletics building on the West Campus, and to develop athletics facilities for the East Campus on 22 acres of land used through an enhanced sharing agreement with the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration. This campaign also added $2,000,000 to the school’s endowment fund. Michael Pratt was named Head of School in 2001.


Fundraising for two East Campus capital projects—the Student Life Center (SLC) and the Aquatics Center—culminated with the March 2005 opening of the SLC and the April 2008 opening of the Caruso Watt Aquatics Center. During this time, we also upgraded the Lower School main classroom building and renovated the art and science rooms. In 2008, the school graduated its largest class to date—123 students.


A series of projects took place to help enhance our East Campus. We refurbished our Gym with fresh paint, new lighting and sound, new bleachers, and a refinished floor. Both locker rooms were also completely updated. Renovation of the North Quad classrooms and outdoor space took place during the summer of 2011. The modernized classrooms are now conducive to creative teaching and learning. In addition, major improvements were made to the Upper School Art Studio to improve lighting and use of space, and to add appropriate storage. In December 2011, the state-of-the-art Michael D. Pratt Academic Village was completed in time for students to enjoy the new classrooms when they returned for second semester in January 2012. Mike Riera was named Head of School in 2011.


A revitalized partnership agreement with the West Los Angeles Veteran Administration was signed and the Veteran Center for Recreation and Education was established. A new Conditional Use Permit for our 30 Year Education Master Plan for both the East and West Campus was approved by the City of Los Angeles. Groundbreaking was held for our new Middle School Building with a targeted completion date of July 2019.