Architectural Walking Tour of Ithaca

Last week I mentioned going on an architectural walking tour of Ithaca, and this week I’ve decided to go into a little more detail regarding what that tour entailed. The History Center in Tompkins County puts out a brochure that includes 17 different architectural stops you can follow as part of an architectural self-guided tour of downtown. The pamphlet includes small descriptions of each stop, as well as a map for direction. The tour begins at The Gateway Center, home of the History Center, and concludes at the State Theater, Ithaca’s popular entertainment venue. Along the way there are five churches and one temple, four historic houses, two inns, one theater, a courthouse and a park.

The inside of the churches along the tour were of special interest to Michele (who I went with), but since we started the tour after five o’clock we were unable to go inside any of the churches or the temple. We did stop at each and try, however, and deliberating a little longer than normal on the buildings made me appreciate their intricacies and carefully-crafted designs. I particularly liked the temple, which was a building with a cube-shaped base, topped by an octagon, with a twelve-sided clerestory on the very top. Michele’s roommate, Gary, joined us on the tour after we had seen several of the churches. He was present for my favorite stop, the Beebe-Halsey House. The Beebe-Halsey House currently serves as the DeWitt Park Inn, although it is being converted into a housing building in the near future. We were lucky enough to run into the innkeeper’s daughter outside, who invited us in and showed us around. She was even kind enough to show us her bedroom, which formerly served as the servant’s headquarters! The inside of the inn was beautiful, comfortable but elegant, and tastefully decorated. There were some very lovely paintings on the wall.

A few stops after the inn was The Boardman House, which served as the Ithaca Conservatory of Music’s original downtown campus before serving as the main building of Ithaca College’s downtown campus. The house was built in the Italianate style, with the front porch serving as the main focal point. The house is pictured to the side. The architectural walking tour was very informative, and helped me feel more aware of my architectural surroundings in Ithaca.


kathleen malnatiStory and photo by Kathleen Malnati