William G. Waring

William Waring helped design the initial curriculum of the Farmers’ High School and enrolled the first students. (Penn State Archives)

William G. Waring was Principal of the Faculty and Professor of Horticulture at the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.

William Griffith Waring was born in Herefordshire, England, in 1816 and emigrated to Centre County where he became a teacher and a nurseryman, owning a farm in Oak Hall. Waring organized the first teachers institute in Pennsylvania. He wrote frequently on horticultural subjects, and his The Fruit Growers Handbook (1851) was the first book published in Centre County.

In 1856, he became Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for the nascent Farmers’ High School, overseeing the construction of the College Building (later to be known as Old Main) and barns, as well as the laying out of the grounds and the planting of trees, orchards, and shrubbery.

After being appointed to his professorial post, he helped design the initial curriculum, hire the faculty, and enroll the first students in 1858-59. Waring was likely the first faculty member and predecessor to the school’s first president, Evan Pugh, as leader of the school in its earliest days.

However, Waring was not a college graduate, and he was uncomfortable dealing with unruly college students. With the death of a son in that initial year of classes, he resigned and returned to the nursery business, first in Oak Hall and two years later in Tyrone, Blair County. He lived the remainder of his life in Tyrone, dying in 1906 without ever again setting foot on the campus he had helped create.

Waring Commons in the West Residence Halls at Penn State and Waring Avenue in State College are named for him. He was the great-grandfather of the popular American bandleader Fred Waring.

Lee Stout


Mairs, Thomas I. Some Pennsylvania Pioneers in Agricultural Science. State College, Pa., 1928.

Waring Family Papers, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University

First Published: May 20, 2021

Last Modified: November 17, 2021