Created By: The History Center in Tompkins County
This Greek Revival house is one of the oldest in the district. It was built around 1830 by missionary/anthropologist Samuel J. Parker on land he purchased from Ithaca’s founder, Simeon Dewitt.
The house has undergone substantial changes since its construction. Photographs from the 1860s depict the central section as having three full stories and three bays and a less steeply-pitched roof. (It is now two and a half stories high, with just two bays at the top story.)
The photos also indicate a narrower door treatment. It is possible that the porch as well as the current doorway, including the rounded pilasters, the sidelights, and the fanlight, were Colonial Revival additions. The house had acquired its present appearance by 1954.
Samual Parker was an interinant missionary in western New York and the pastor of the Congregational Church in Danby for several years before he settled in Ithaca. He was educated at Williams College and had many scholarly interests.
In the 1830s Parker traveled to the western United States, intending to bring Christianity to the Nez Perce Indians. Upon returning to Ithaca, he published his diary under the title PARKER’S EXPLORING TOUR BEYOND THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS TOUR BEYOND THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS and organized a display of the rocks, minerals, shells, and artifacts he had collected and catalogued. His glossary of Indian dialects is among the earliest attempts to transcribe Native American language into written form.
Parker’s land purchase from Simeon Dewitt in 1830 included nearly all the land between what is now Schuyler place and North Aurora Street and between Buffalo and Seneca streets. The street you are standing on was built by Parker and given to the Village of Ithaca as a requirement of the land purchase.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Lower East Hill Historic District