Ithaca, N.Y. — Katherine Herleman reacted with dismay when she saw news of the fire at The Chapter House in Ithaca early Tuesday morning.

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The Cornell graduate student in the geological sciences says the historic watering hole was the first place she went while being recruited by the university.

“I’ve been there several times, usually celebrating friends passing their defenses,” she says.

“This is really terrible — I know so many alumni who are attached to that place. Bill Nye (Cornell ’77) was there just a few months ago…”

See related: Everyone safe in fire at Ithaca’s Chapter House; buildings lost

Photo by IV’s Ryan Landvater
Photo by Jim Strehle

Herleman says she has decided to help: The grad student, who recently helped with hurricane evacuation in Florida, says she is offering to house residents who were displaced by the blaze.

“I can definitely host people,” she says. “I just want to makes sure that these students are placed with other students in a safe space.”

Nobody was injured in the fire, which affected multiple buildings. (One person was unaccounted for initially but has since been found.) Two buildings have been declared a total loss.

Herleman says those who may need temporary housing because of the fire can contact her at kch227@cornell.edu. About 30 Cornell students were taken to Barton Hall as the university seeks housing accommodation.

“At the very least, they can continue with their normal lives until they can figure out what their housing is,” she says. “I’m so glad nobody was lost.”


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Jeff Stein

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