Fountain Place (President's House, three-quarter view), Photo property of Ithaca College

ITHACA, N.Y. — In a statement released late yesterday afternoon, Ithaca College announced its formal intent to place its former presidential mansion on the market this spring, and move forward with plans for a new residence to be completed next year.

The college plans to place its mansion at 2 Fountain Place for sale with Warren Real Estate, and will have Warren market the adjacent property at 2 Willets Place under a separate listing. 2 Fountain Place is a 9,100 square-foot, 7 bedroom/5 bath mansion located in the city of Ithaca’s historic East Hill neighborhood. Designed by famed local architect William Henry Miller and built in 1891, the mansion was purchased by Ithaca College in 1938. 2,812 square-foot 2 Willets Place formerly served as the carriage house for the mansion, and was later used as the home of the nursing school and as the college infirmary. It has most recently been used by the college as a guest house for esteemed visitors.

2 Fountain Place (former President’s House, three-quarter view). Photo property of Ithaca College
2 Fountain Place (former President’s House, three-quarter view). Photo property of Ithaca College

Warren will host the listing exclusively at first, but if no buyer is found before May 1st, the properties will be listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). MLSs give the selling real estate broker more exposure, but it allows other local brokers on the MLS to show the property to potential buyers.

The asking price for 2 Fountain Place will be $1.5 million, and $450,000 for 2 Willets Place. According to Ithaca College, the purchaser of Fountain Place will have the first-right-of-refusal to buy Willets Place as well, meaning they get first dibs on its purchase before any other potential buyers. The Tompkins County Department of Assessment has the two properties valued at $1.9 million and $390,000 respectively.

Zoning at the sites pretty much leaves the options at private residences, group homes, or fancy bed and breakfast inns. Both structures are contributing members of the East Hill Historic District, which gives them significant protections and protects the exterior of the buildings from alterations that may not fit with their historic character.

The decision to sell the venerable manor came as a result of “financial and logistical challenges,” according to a statement from Tom Grape, Chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. Specific reasons cited in the decision to sell the property include its distance from Ithaca College’s campus, lack of off-street parking, the expense in maintaining the nearly 130-year old building, and difficulties in using the building and property to host large events on the college’s behalf.

In the college’s announcement, Bryan Warren, the president of Warren Real Estate, said “(w)e are honored to represent a property of such character and distinction, which would be nearly impossible to re-create in this modern age…We expect it will sell to a buyer who has a true love for its location, its architecture and its rich history.”

Proceeds from the property sale will be used to finance construction of the new president’s home, at an undisclosed location on South Hill. The college has been at work on plans for the new home, which will be a modern design penned by ikon.5 Architects, the same firm responsible for Collegetown Terrace and the Breazzano Center in Collegetown. The new presidential digs will be located near the college’s Emerson Hall dormitory near the north end of campus, and be set into the hillside, providing panoramic views of Cayuga Lake from its vantage point. The intent is to begin construction on the new president’s residence this fall, with completion in Fall 2019.

“We’re excited to announce that we have decided to construct the new house right on campus,” said Ithaca College Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Grape. “We want it to be a warm and welcoming home for our presidents and their families for now and for many decades to come, while also having appropriate spaces for a variety of large and small events hosted by the president.”

In the meanwhile, the college has purchased a home to serve as a temporary residence for Ithaca College president Shirley Collado. President Collado and her husband have been living in a rental unit in Downtown Ithaca since her tenure began at the university in July 2017, but the college decided to purchase a home in the interim, under the guidance that it would be more financially prudent than paying another year of rent – with any luck, the college can break even or make a modestly positive return on investment by selling the property once they no longer need it.

Although the university has said it will not confirm the location of the temporary president’s residence as a matter of privacy, a deed was filed on Monday for the $544,900 purchase by Ithaca College of a newly-built home at 109 Loomis Court in the upscale South Pointe subdivision in the town of Danby. According to spokesman Dave Maley of the college’s Office of College Relations and Communications, the temporary residence will be kept on the tax rolls.

Brian Crandall

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