This column was written by Brian Crandall, who runs “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”

Ithaca, N.Y. — A single-family home at 421 N. Albany Street in Ithaca is being considered for historic designation. The house was home to a precursor of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity that sought to purchase the property and restore it as a historic fraternal landmark.

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The African-American fraternity (the first fraternity of its kind) is also raising money to build a monument at 411 East State Street (shown below, zoning appeal application from last summer here).

The 411 East State site is owned by Travis Hyde Properties, and the national fraternity appears to have negotiated use of that part of the property for its monument.

The fraternity’s website says it has formed “The Jewels Project” to “reclaim, restore and revive” the historic Ithaca sites that are “a part of American History and were instrumental to the founding of Alpha Phi Alpha.”

The two main sites are the one at 411 East State Street and the one at 421 North Albany Street, according to the fraternity.

“Time is short to act to acquire these historic landmarks.  Although the original 411 East State Street residence was torn down long ago, the current owner of the site has graciously agreed to give us the property free of charge to rebuild the original facade,” the fraternity’s website says.

“Additionally, we are engaged in productive discussions with the current owner of 421 North Albany Street to sell us that property so that we can restore the rapidly deteriorating property to its original condition.”

According to its website, Alpha Phi Alpha members have included W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, William Gray and Paul Robeson.

Click here to read more about the fraternity’s history.

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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at