Created By: The History Center in Tompkins County
The Boardman House, built in 1866-67, links the economic, educational, and cultural development of Ithaca. George McChain, publisher and twice mayor, built the house on land purchased from Ezra Cornell. When a fire destroyed his business in 1884, he sold the house to Judge Douglass Boardman, the first dean of Cornell University Law School.
From 1910 to the early 1960s it housed offices of the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, chartered as Ithaca College in 1932. The college built many other structures behind and attached to the Boardman House, stretching as far as the Baptist Church. During this time DeWitt Park was the center of campus activity. Sold to the county in 1972, the Boardman House would have been demolished along with the other college buildings but for a successful citizens' campaign. It now is used for offices.
Designed by Alfred B. Dale, the Boardman House is an impressive Italianate, presenting a dignified three-bay facade to Buffalo Street and a more rambling, five-bay elevation, with recessed service wing, to the park. The south porch has paired Ionic columns on paneled pedestals. The elaborate window caps are of cast iron and the sills of local stone. The red standing-seam metal roof is a distinctive feature when seen from afar.
This point of interest is part of the tour: DeWitt Park Historic District