Bethesda History


history_alumniOriginally named Bethesda Orphan House and Academy, Bethesda Academy began as a colonial orphanage and has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating child-caring institution in the country. Founded in 1740 by Rev. George Whitefield, Bethesda was visited by many of the country’s founding fathers, and found one of its earliest supporters in Benjamin Franklin.

Over almost three centuries, Bethesda has served more than 12,000 boys, each of whom has benefited from George Whitefield’s founding mission to teach “a love for God, a love of learning and a strong work ethic.”

In 1900, Bethesda was re-named the Bethesda Home for Boys. In 1992, Bethesda School began educating students on the 650-acre campus, providing a wide range of learning experiences rooted in George Whitefield’s founding mission. In 2011, the school was officially re-branded as Bethesda Academy, reflecting the school’s commitment to college preparatory learning.

2013 PrayerFlagpole - CMYKFrom its earliest days as an orphanage for 61 children in Georgia, Bethesda has evolved into a successful private day school for boys in grades 6-12 and serves a diverse student population. Today, Bethesda Academy offers a wide range of educational opportunities for students with various learning styles. The curriculum emphasizes integrated learning, spiritual development, and a work-study program.


GeorgeWhitefieldGeorge Whitefield (1714 –1770) was one of the most widely recognized public figures in colonial America. This accomplished English Anglican preacher helped spread the Great Awakening in Britain and in the North American colonies including Georgia. He was one of the founders of Methodism and founded Bethesda as an orphanage in Savannah 1740. An acclaimed orator, Whitefield was a sought-after spiritual leader who attracted large crowds and had a devout following.