Farmingdale State College
Children growing up in the Farmingdale-Bethpage area as late as the
1960’s and 70’s would likely have visited the college in East
Farmingdale to watch cows being milked, sheep shorn and other
assorted farm animals being cared for. That’s not a surprise
since when the school was founded in 1912 it was the New York
State School of Agriculture on Long Island. As such, it
was the first public college on Long Island.
college founding drew support from many prominent Long Islanders
such as Franklin Hooper who lobbied the legislature to approve the
creation of an agricultural college on Long Island. At the
time an agricultural school at Morrisville, NY was the closest one
to Long Island and it was halfway to Buffalo. As reported in
the New York Times in 1909, “…the easterly half of the state’s area,
containing more than ¾ of the state’s population, has no
agricultural institution at the present time.” There were many
besides farmers themselves who were rooting for a college to be
established on Long Island. Farm machinery manufacturers,
fertilizer producers, grain and seed dealers, and nurserymen were
the advocates closely associated with the soil. However,
bankers and especially railroad men were all cooperative in trying
to get an agricultural college established on Long Island. H.
B. Fullerton of the Long Island Rail Road who had established an
experimental farm in Wading River, Long Island was particularly
influential in getting state sponsorship for an agricultural college
on Long Island although there was quite a bit of arguing about where
it would be located. Farmingdale was chosen because it had
good soil, was ready to be farmed, was not too far from New York
City and it was on the Long Island Rail Road line. The
purchase price for the 325 acres was $300/acre.
Some of the early board members at the college included: Hal
Fullerton of the LIRR Experimental Station in Medford, Congressman
Henry Reeves, Benjamin Yoakum, farmer and railroad executive and
many other prominent government officials and businessmen.
first students arrived on campus in March 1916. Fifteen
graduated in 1919 including one woman. Plans to have an
extensive “domestic economy” program never materialized although
there were women students from the very first day.
earliest years of the college were devoted to the technology of
farming- both farm crops and dairy and animal husbandry. The
early curriculum consisted of courses in agronomy, horticulture, and
general studies. Students were required to work the fields and
care for the livestock. In 1920 the college began a farm
equipment show that included the various kinds of machinery that
would be used on a farm. That show proved to be quite popular
and became an annual event known as the Country Life Open House.
curriculum expanded in the late 30’s and 40’s to include more
science and technology programs. These were particularly
prominent during World War II. Popular exhibits at the Country
Life Open House such as A Victory Garden, Baby Chick and Egg Show
and Farm Machinery and Tractor Adjustment and Repair drew large
crowds. The school continued to keep up with the times after the war
and offered programs in food technology, engineering technology,
business administration, dental hygiene, advertising and art design
and aircraft operations. This Technical and Industrial
Division which was opened in 1946 was temporarily housed at the
former Nazareth Trade School at 520 Conklin Street in Farmingdale.
The Technical Division moved to the college campus in 1953 thereby
uniting the students from the Agricultural Division and the
Technical Division for the first time.
Long Island moved away from an agriculture-based economy, so too did
the programs offered by the college. During the 1980’s, the
agricultural programs were discontinued. Only Ornamental
Horticulture remains. The beautiful gardens on the eastern
part of the campus are maintained by students of this department and
are open to the public. They are well worth a visit.
college is currently known by the name Farmingdale State College.
It became a four-year school in 1993. A large dormitory called
Orchard Hall was opened several years ago to house the many students
from distant areas that are now attending the school.
The college is currently looking forward to and planning for its centennial in 2012.
Nazareth Trade School
Tying Grapes at the College - Late 1920's
At Work at the Dairy Barn
Advertising Art at the College
Dental Hygenist Training at Farmingdale College
Farm Equipment Show - 1920's<