Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Historic Structures: The Boardman House

January 11, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Boardman House (1866)- 120 East Buffalo Street

From Ithaca and its Past:

“..George McChain, a publisher and twice president of Ithaca, built this Italianate mansion on land he bought from Ezra Cornell. After a fire destroyed his business, however, he was forced to sell the house. It was purchased by Douglass Boardman, lawyer, judge, and first dean of Cornell Law School, in 1884, and his family owned the house for many years. In 1910 his widow sold it to the Ithaca Conservatory of Music (later Ithaca College), which used the house as its administration building and built other buildings nearby… (A double building at 119-121 East Buffalo Street around 1913 on the Boardman House…). Most of these buildings were torn down in 1972, however, after the county bought them [in 1969] and the Boardman House from the college. Then in 1975 the County Board of Representatives voted to tear down the Boardman House as well, but community protests have so far prevented this action [in addition, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, a year before the Ithaca College Museum of Art discontinued its lease with the owner, Tompkins County]. A. B. Dale designed the house, which features an elaborate porch with Ionic columns, ornate cast-iron window hoods, rope molding over the door and windows, a square cupola, and paneled chimneys. The exterior was renovated in the late 1970s by a local nonprofit organization, using, in part, historic preservation funds granted by the city.”

Courtesy of The History Center in Tompkins County

The local nonprofit organization is Historic Ithaca, which renovated the building from 1976-1977, and previously, the Ithaca College Museum of Art ran a gallery in the building from 1966 to 1972, now located on the South Hill campus, called the “Handwerker Gallery“. The City of Ithaca owned the property for several decades, until it was sold to Joseph Ciaschi, whom passed away in 2011, and is particularly remembered for the work he has done for historic preservation in Ithaca, a part of which included the Boardman House, and the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Station, which was converted to the Station Restaurant, an establishment he ran for 25 years (now a bank branch for Chemung Canal Trust Company). The Boardman’s front yard was tastefully landscaped this past Summer, and lights now illuminate the front facade at night.




Watercolor by Glenn Norris


“Part of the downtown campus of Ithaca College as seen from DeWitt Park. On the right is the Boardman House; attached to the back of the house are the Little Theatre and an administrative annex. The Steeple of the First Baptist Church is at the far left.”