ITHACA, NY – “It was very exciting, very gratifying,” said Ginger Breggin on being honored with the recent Pride of Ownership Award. “It turned into a labor of love.”

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Peter and Ginger Breggin were among the six awarded in this years ceremonies for their restoration of the property at 313 N. Tioga St.

The Breggins moved to Ithaca from Bethesda, MD in 2002. After finding a home on the lake, they knew their next step would be to find Peter – a noteable psychiatrist – an office. “We were fortunate enough to find this building,” said Ginger Breggin, “We’re just thrilled with it.”

It was the “charming” 19th century Victorian architecture that Breggin says drew them to the building.

313 Tioga St., before it’s recent restoration.

They had the building painted soon after moving in, but the Breggins saw areas even then that they knew would need repair down the road.

A sketch of the building, dated 1983 by “Dean.”

When they decided to invest in a more thorough renovation, they contracted Coy Glen painters do the job. Ginger said she had seen the company’s work on similar buildings in the area and appreciated the quality.

“They’re real old school painters. You get what feels like a dozen guys crawling all over the building, grinding away, there’s scaffolding to the sky, and guys hanging from ropes,” she laughed.

How long did the project take? “Well, it felt like a year,” said Ginger, “but it took around four weeks.” The painters had to do various minor repairs as they went, which extended the timeframe. Prior to the painting, substantial work had been done on the building’s siding and underlying stonework.

“It wasn’t easy on our tenants upstairs – we have a therapist, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist with offices there – but they were very tolerant,” she added.

The building is part of the DeWitt Park Historic District, which means that any substantial exterior changes must maintain true to the architectural style of the building.

“For instance, when we bought the building, we had to put a new roof on it and do the gutters again. We had to get ‘historically accurate gutters,’ we couldn’t just get normal new ones, you know?”

Some of the changes the Breggins made actually returned the building more to its roots. In the 1960s, the arched windows had been squared off to accommodate storm windows. The Breggins restored the original shape.

“I had to get permission, still,” said Ginger, “but of course they were thrilled because I was giving [the windows] back their true personality.”

The final version of the house actually boasts eight different shades, compared to the plain black and white it was originally painted. Some of the color differences are subtle – for instance, the large tower on the building’s south side is slightly darker to highlight the verticality.

Ginger says her favorite piece post-restoration is the lamp that hangs in the porch entryway. “It’s a reproduction but it felt so right for the period of the house, and I feel like it ‘hung a necklace on her,’ you know?”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.