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photo of the SUNY New Paltz campus

History of the Campus

The State University of New York at New Paltz traces its roots to 1828. The New Paltz Classical School opened its doors and offered Greek and Latin in addition to the common curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic.  Five years later, the school became a full-fledged academy, located on Huguenot Street.

After a major fire in 1884, the Academy was rebuilt and became a state normal school, offering courses to prepare graduates to teach in the New York public school systems. There was also an academic course for those not interested in the teacher-training curriculum.  In April 1906, fire destroyed the school for a second time. Local officials rebuilt once again, this time on a new, ten-acre hillside, one mile from the Wallkill River.  The building, now known as “Old Main,” was dedicated in January 1909.

In 1938, the New York State Education Department extended the Normal School’s curricula to four years and gave it full collegiate standing. The State Teachers College at New Paltz was born with its first graduating class consisting of 112 students.

New Paltz became one of the founding units of the State University of New York (SUNY) in 1948. In 1960, New Paltz and Fredonia were the first SUNY four-year colleges authorized to grant a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts studies. In 1961, the name of the institution was changed to State University of New York College of Liberal Arts and Science at New Paltz.

Today, the State University of New York at New Paltz covers 257-acres and includes the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Science & Engineering, the School of Fine & Performing Arts, the School of Education, and The Graduate School. Recently renovated, “Old Main” remains the oldest building on campus and is home to the School of Education, the cornerstone of the institution’s academic legacy.

For more campus history, visit our Facebook page Timeline and the Sojourner Truth Library/College History Collection page.