About Us

History & Traditions

Peddie School was founded in 1864 as the Hightstown Female Seminary, a Baptist preparatory school. Later that year, boys were admitted, and the school began a series of name changes. In 1872, the school took its current name in honor of philanthropist and politician Thomas B. Peddie (1808-89), who gave the school a $25,000 gift.

Peddie School remained coed until 1908, when it was decided, for social and economic reasons, to admit boys only. This standard was reversed in the early 1970s, when girls were readmitted. The school is now coeducational and nondenominational.

Wilson Hall (1866-1978) served all the school's needs until 1889, when additional land was acquired and more buildings erected. Peddie's longest-serving head of school, Roger W. Swetland (1898-1934), drew up the master plan to create the central grassy mall.

Gifts from Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg ‘27 were used for the construction of two libraries, dormitories, and an athletic center, among other projects. The school has grown to include 57 buildings on a 280-acre campus.

In 1993, Annenberg gave $100 million to Peddie, which provided an endowed fund for financial aid, enabling students from every walk of life to receive a Peddie education. The ambassador died in 2002, just after giving the cornerstone gift for the construction of The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center, which was completed in fall 2005.


The Annenberg Story

Philanthropist, patriot, publisher and proud patriarch of a distinguished family, Walter H. Annenberg befriended presidents, kings and queens and ordinary Americans, serving as ambassador to Britain and giving millions to charity. A 20th century success story, he was always mindful of sharing his good fortune with others and believed that all citizens, whatever their background, should profit from the extraordinary opportunities provided by a high–quality education.

Ambassador Annenberg's days at Peddie were formative, rewarding and educational. Even at that young age, he deemed himself grateful, a watchword that continued to guide his life. Upon his graduation in 1927, an unparalleled bond was created with his alma mater.

The generosity of this alumnus to Peddie was extraordinary. He was immensely proud of his affiliation with his "old school," and while universities and cultural institutions with more august names came to call, it was Peddie that always captured the ambassador's heart.

His gifts to Peddie were historic and heartfelt. Libraries, dormitories, the athletic center, faculty support, scholarships and a final gift with his wife for the new science center. Every area of the school was transformed by him over the past 75 years.

Yet for all the bricks and mortar, the ambassador's greatest impact on Peddie was his legendary gift of $100 million in 1993. Because of his desire to see Peddie become accessible to all, this endowment was not earmarked for new buildings but for financial aid. The endowment has enabled students from all backgrounds to pursue a course of study that would have been unattainable otherwise.

In 1943, Walter Annenberg wrote in a note accompanying a gift, "It is not very difficult for me to state why I believe in the Peddie School. I have never felt that, upon graduating from Peddie, a student was just entering life; he had already seen a good deal of life right here. Rather, he was being given an opportunity to show what stuff he was made of, and how well he had learned the lessons in leadership and citizenship so well taught."

By demonstrating to the members of the Peddie community what it means to strive for the highest quality of citizenship, Peddie will be eternally grateful to Walter Annenberg.
Peddie School motto:
Finimus Pariter
Renovamusque Labores
When we finish our labors
we begin them anew
201 South Main Street
Hightstown, NJ 08520-3349
Phone Number: 609-944-7500
Fax Number: 609-944-7901