Historical Society















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. 

The 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. 

The 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. 

The 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. 

The 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. 

As 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. 

The 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.



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Nazareth Trade School.jpg (201015 bytes)

Nazareth Trade School

Tying Grapes at the College - Late 1920's.jpg (296421 bytes)

Tying Grapes at the College - Late 1920's

At Work at the Dairy Barn.jpg (64674 bytes)

At Work at the Dairy Barn

Advertising_Art_at_College_-Late_1940s.jpg (71772 bytes)

Advertising Art at the College

Dental Hygienist Training at the College.jpg (147455 bytes)

Dental Hygenist Training at Farmingdale College

Farm Equipment Show - 1920's.jpg (277295 bytes)

Farm Equipment Show - 1920's<