Created By: The History Center in Tompkins County
Two different houses have existed on this property. The first was a small, stucco-covered dwelling built around 1909 for George F. Atkinson, professor and head of the Department of Botany at Cornell.
That house was demolished and replaced by this large Colonial Revival-style home, which was built as a fraternity probably in the mid 1920s. It is currently the home of Phi Sigma Epsilon.
Atkinson's legacy to the district included the installation of nearly 10,000 trees and shrubs in a "wild garden" he created on the property over several years. The garden was described in the Ithaca Daily Journal of 5 May 1907:
“Professor G. F. Atkinson's three-acre lot on the Heights, which he started planting eight years ago . . . is beginning now to attract notice. . . . The different varieties are planted in masses and appear to have been set out in purely haphazard fashion, unless one has the eye of an expert landscape architect. . . . The high banks along the roadside are planted with several thousand trailing roses, which flower profusely in June and July.”
It was the site of frequent class excursions in botany, landscape gardening, and drawing.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Cornell Heights Historic District Driving Tour