Ithaca's Clinton House was built as a hotel in 1830, when the area was experiencing a post-canal boom. It originally had five stories, including an attic and basement. The building was designed by Ira Tillotson, a local architect and builder. It was a grand structure, with 150 rooms and a 96-foot dining hall, and was described as a hotel of superior order and of the first class. Over the course of the hotel's history, it hosted a number of famous guests, including Dewitt Clinton, Horace Greeley, and William Seward.
Over the years, the building has undergone several renovations. The first of these, in 1872, was overseen by Cornell University's first architecture graduate, William Henry Miller. During that renovation, a mansard roof was added to the building as well as a hydraulic elevator. The elevator still exists, but is no longer in use.
The other renovation occurred following a 1901 fire that completely destroyed the top two floors. The renovation took more than a year and cost $32,000. The present-day lobby is largely the result of that renovation. That renovation was overseen by Clinton Vivian and it was during that renovation that many of the Colonial Revival elements were added.
The Clinton House continued functioning as a hotel until 1972. At that time, the building was threatened with possible demolition but was saved by Historic Ithaca, which purchased the building and carried out another extensive renovation. The building, which was sold in 2009, now houses a number of offices. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.