Created By: Ithaca Heritage
The Henry St. John building at 301 South Geneva Street, named for Ithaca's third mayor, was a product of the second building boom of this neighborhood. Ithaca grew substantially in the 1910s and 1920s, and a new school was needed as a result. Built in 1925, the building was an elementary school for nearly 60 years. It was converted into apartments and offices in 1983, when the city's school-age population had shrunk due to suburbanization.
The style is Collegiate Gothic, a very popular look for institutional buildings at the time. Sage Hall, on Cornell's campus, is an earlier (and more ornate) example of this style. This building is cast concrete and brick. It has a thin limestone cornice and a brick parapet, in turn capped with a limestone coping. The main entrance on the west façade includes an open vestibule with a brick Tudor arch with a limestone keystone. The vestibule opening is flanked by stone pilasters surmounted by a limestone panel with relief sculpture and Gothic detailing. Many of these details are reflected in the building's other entrances. Most of the windows are aluminum replacements as part of the extensive remodeling work. All of the building’s ground floor and second floor windows have limestone sills. At each façade, the brick is laid in running bond. A decorative soldier course topped with a rowlock course extends across all four façades just under the limestone cornice separating the wall from the parapet and across the west, north, and south façades, forming a lintel for the ground floor and second floor windows of the west, north, and south façades. Identical courses of soldiers and rowlocks top the foundation, just below the water table at each façade.
The architect was Arthur N. Gibb (1868-1949), an 1890 graduate of Cornell's architecture program who practiced in Ithaca for more than 50 years. Gibb, along with William H. Miller (1848-1922; for whom he worked) and Clinton Vivian (1861-1930; with whom he had an office), is responsible for an enormous percentage of Ithaca's landmark buildings.
This point of interest is part of the tour: The Henry St. John District Historic Walking Tour