Argos Inn - Preservation imagination

Waste(d) Imagination Tour

Argos Inn - Preservation imagination

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Just Places Lab


408 E State St, Ithaca, NY 14850

The Argos Inn is a beautifully restored, historic mansion near downtown that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn is the historic McCormick-Cowdry house and one of the oldest buildings in the East Hill Historic District. It is a large three bay, Greek revival house with entablature and gable returns that are parallel to the street. The massive window lintels and sills and the doorway, flanked by sidelights and pilasters, are also original details.

The property was inhabited by two different families of Village of Ithaca Presidents from when it was built in 1831 until it was turned into apartments in the 1920s. In the 1940s, Roy Park turned the property and the neighboring warehouse into the world headquarters of Duncan Hines Foods. From the 1960s - 2000s a variety of other businesses occupied the building such as a hair salon, accounting firm, Buddhist publishing company, and various non-profits. In 2009, Ithaca native Avi Smith bought the property and converted the building into the Argos Inn. Renovations were completed in late 2013.

The building has been given new life as a boutique hotel and gathering space. Many local actors took part in the restoration process. Whitham Planning Design Landscape Architecture PLLC (WPD) employed local artisans to restore or fabricate intricate architectural details that were lost or covered over – including more than a mile of millwork. The end result showcases the building’s meticulously restored wood, stone, plaster, brick, and glass details. Rejuvenating these classic architectural elements makes the space feel fresh, new, and vibrantly alive. WPD further collaborated with metal, stone, and plaster artists to design an outdoor space that complements the historic building, including an outdoor patio that features an amphitheater seating area for hotel guests, custom cast railings, and site-specific in-ground LED lighting. Projects like this create a mutually beneficial cycle: Smith could achieve a sensitive restoration project because he has skilled local tradespeople to work with, and businesses like Kingsley Woodworking can thrive in Ithaca because there are projects to sustain them.

The Argos Inn is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum-certified historic mansion. Contributing green building features include geothermal wells under the parking lot that provide heating and air conditioning, low-wattage LED bulbs, low VOC building materials, low-flow faucets, and a variety of energy-efficient building materials. In 2017, The Argos Inn won the Preservation League Of NYS Award of Excellence In Historic Preservation; it is the first building in Ithaca to receive this honor. The Argos Inn also received Historic Ithaca’s Preservation Award in 2014.

Today, the previously derelict building has become one of the most sought-after spaces for accommodations, specialty cocktails, and events for the Ithaca community.

Visit the Argos Inn website to learn more about the inn.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Waste(d) Imagination Tour


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