He was born in Ballston Spa, New York. After being educated at Union College, he served as an apprentice of Richard Upjohn while he designed Trinity Church in Manhattan. Remaining with the firm for five years, he became a partner and later married Upjohn's daughter. His interest in Gothic Revival architecture led him to study for the ministry, and after his training he became the priest and rector of an Episcopal church in Arden, New York.
He was elected the first Professor of Architecture at Cornell University on September 18, 1871, essentially founding the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. While at Cornell, he continued to serve as a minister, and authored two textbooks, Elementary Architecture (1876) and Vaults (1884), and designed several important campus buildings, including Sage Hall, Olive Tjaden Hall, and Sage Chapel. He was a professor until 1897, when he became Professor Emeritus, and served in that position until his death.
- The Journal of San Diego History, Winter 1987, Volume 33, Number 1, William Sterling Hebbard: Consummate San Diego Architect; By Kathleen Flanigan; http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/87winter/hebbard.htm
- The Journal of San Diego History, Winter 1987, Volume 33, Number 1, William Sterling Hebbard: Consummate San Diego Architect; By Kathleen Flanigan
- Rambusch, Viggo Bech (1999). "Re-Lighting a Historic Church Interior: Challenges at Cornell University's Sage Chapel". Association for Preservation Technology Bulletin. 30 (2/3): 56–59. doi:10.2307/1504641. JSTOR 1504641.
- History of the College of Architecture, Art & Planning Part 3
- AAP college history overview
- History of Cornell Chapter XVII. THE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE. Archived December 16, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
- Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New York, New York: A Guide to the Empire State, Oxford University Press, 1940
- "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 5/16/11 through 5/20/11. National Park Service. 2011-05-27.
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