50 for 50: The Clinton House

The restoration and renovation of the Clinton House was Historic Ithaca’s most massive and long-term undertaking. Built as a grand hotel in ca. 1830 and designed by Ira Tillotson, its monumental Greek Revival style reflected Ithaca’s early prosperity. It was remodeled twice in its long history: prominent Ithaca architect William Henry Miller added a fourth floor, tower, and mansard roof in the Second Empire style, and Clinton L. Vivian largely restored the roofline to its original design following a fire in 1901.

In 1973, after the owner of the Clinton House announced plans to demolish the building and, in its place, build a junior Holiday Inn, Historic Ithaca took on the tremendous effort required to purchase the building, gather community support, and plan the restoration work. A handful of tireless individuals – executive director Carol U. Sisler and project managers Victoria Romanoff and Constance Saltonstall – and a crew of volunteer labor performed much of this work in the first, extensive phase between 1973 and 1975.

In later years, additional restoration projects and a major retrofit were completed. In 2009, Historic Ithaca sold the building, but it remains protected by covenants.

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Photo by Constance Saltonstall

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