Photo courtesy Matt Marsh

Ithaca, N.Y. — Matt Fellman worked as a bartender for The Chapter House in Collegetown for about 15 years.

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In a brief interview on Wednesday, Fellman acknowledged the pain of losing the “special, magical place.” But he primarily stressed that he’s glad that nobody was hurt and that The Chapter House staff extends its sympathies to the dozens of residents who lost their homes and belongings in the fire.

“We’re really happy that everyone is okay: That is the most important thing,” Fellman says. “It was a special, magical place — but the people who lost their homes, the feeling of being displaced is so tragic.”

“The loss of all the students and residents in the adjoining building — our sympathies lie with them. Now is a period of mourning and taking care of each other.”

Photo courtesy Matt Marsh

Several people have asked Fellman about the future of the historic Chapter House bar. But he wants it to be clear that those questions are best suited to be answered at a future date.

“We want to impress on people that we take this time to care for each other and to be grateful for what we do have,” he said, “and not worry about all that other stuff in the future.”

The Chapter House, the building that holds it and a building adjacent to it were destroyed in a blaze early Tuesday morning. Authorities have not determined the cause of the fire.

Click here for how to help The Chapter House and residents displaced by the fire

As far as the bar’s future is concerned, Fellman said that the owner of the bar and the owner of the building both understand The Chapter House’s important legacy.

“They have a really good business relationship and they’re both understanding of what everyone would like to see in the future,” he said.

It’s a dark day for The Chapter House. But Fellman suggested that the bar will one day be restored to its former glory.

“Rome and Chicago and San Francisco all got hit with pretty nasty fires,” Fellman says, “and they’re looking pretty nice nowadays.”


Ithaca Voice coverage of Chapter House fire


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.