The Manufacture of Charcoal Iron at Centre Furnace
Ironmaking led to the County's second major enterprise, education. Centre Furnace Ironmasters James Irvin and Moses Thompson initiated a gift of 200 acres of furnace land to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society for a new school for farmers. Established in 1855 to teach improved methods of agriculture, its first president, Evan Pugh, arrived in 1859 to find only 119 students, a faculty of four, and the original Old Main still under construction. From those early beginnings, the Farmers' High School has evolved into The Pennsylvania State University, which today is the largest university in the commonwealth.
The Borough of State College, located on land originally part of the Centre Furnace land holdings, grew from a small assemblage of homes located across the road from Old Main, into a town large enough to warrant incorporation in 1896. Businesses opened along College Avenue to serve the needs of a growing student body and college personnel. Rooming and boarding houses initially provided housing for both students and faculty. Within a decade several subdivisions were developed to meet the needs of a growing community. Within a couple of decades State College, despite its comparative youth, grew to be the largest community in Centre County.