The campus resides on the historical property once owned by Thomas Rutter, an abolitionist iron miller, which was deeded to him by William Penn in the early 1700’s. Several of the original buildings still remain on the campus including the Manor House in which it is said that George Washington once rested. Additionally, the property was used during the closing days of slavery as a terminal for the Underground Railroad. These sites have been designated as official projects of Save America’s Treasures and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1940s, Elder John H. Wagner, Sr., former President of Allegheny Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, envisioned a boarding school in the North where African-American high school students could attend without the racial issues of schools in the South. News spread that 575 acres of land near Pottstown, Pennsylvania was for sale. President Wagner, a small entourage of preachers, and Dr. Grace Kimbrough visited the Rutter Estate. Immediately upon seeing the property, they knew their prayers had been answered. After a unanimous vote, it was clear that they had found the site for the school in the North. The 575-acre Rutter Estate was purchased for $46,000. The boarding school would first be called Pine Forge Institute. It opened its doors on September 9, 1946 with its 90 pioneer students.