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The historic Boardman House was built in 1866 for George McChain, but it is most associated with its second owner. The second resident of the home was Douglass Boardman, the first dean of the Cornell University Law School. Following the death of Boardman and his wife, the house was purchased by the Ithaca Conservatory of Music. In the late twentieth century, the building was nearly demolished, but was spared because of the work of Historic Ithaca. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.


  • Boardman House
  • Detail of the entrance of the Boardman House
  • Historic marker at the Boardman House

The Boardman House was built in 1866 for George McChain, a publisher who twice served as president of Ithaca. The home was built on land that McChain purchased from Ezra Cornell. After McChain's business was destroyed in a fire, he was forced to sell the home. 

The house was purchased by Judge Douglass Boardman, the first president of Cornell University Law School and served on the New York Supreme Court. The Boardman family lived in the home for many years, but in 1910, Boardman's widow sold the home to the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, which later became Ithaca College. 

The former Boardman residence served a number of purposes for Ithaca College. After the conservatory became Ithaca College, the building initially housed the college's administrative offices. Once Ithaca College moved its present South Hill location, the building still housed the Ithaca College Museum of Art.

In the 1960s, Thompkins County attempted to buy many of Ithaca College's properties with the intention of tearing them down to be replaced with more modern structures. The county purchased the home in 1972 and in 1975, the Board of Representatives voted to demolish the building, but community protests and the actions of Historic Ithaca saved the home, even as surrounding properties were torn down. In the mid-1970s, Historic Ithaca undertook an extensive restoration of the property. The city owned the home for many years, until it was sold to Joseph Ciaschi, who was active in the preservation of many of the city's most historic properties, including the Boardman House. 

The Boardman House. Historic Ithaca. . Accessed January 05, 2019. http://www.historicithaca.org/about/history/boardman-house/.

Henderson, Jason. Historic Structures: The Boardman House. Ithaca Builds. January 11, 2014. Accessed January 05, 2019. http://ithacabuilds.com/2014/01/11/historic-structures-the-boardman-house/.