Dewitt Building

Architectural History Minute

Dewitt Building (IHS)

Built: 1914, Designed: ….

Long ago in the 1830’s, formal education in Ithaca took place at the Ithaca Academy. It was a private preparatory school for entry into college. By 1859 it was the largest school of its kind in the state with 345 students.

The academy became a public school in 1875. In 1884 a larger building was erected on the same site for public education. In February of 1912 it was completely destroyed by fire. Classes were held in homes until the new building was opened in 1914. This facility would be large enough to hold 1500 students. In 1970 the building was sold to local architect, William Downing, who completely renovated it into distinctive apartments, professional offices, specialty shops, and fine restaurants while retaining the unique architectural integrity of the building.

Dewitt park historic district which The DeWitt Park Historic District (formerly known as the Public Square until 1869) comprises the city block in which the park is located and portions of the surrounding blocks, (with structures fronting on North Cayuga Street, East Court Street, West Court Street, North Tioga Street, East Buffalo Street, and West Buffalo Street. The area also includes two houses that face eastward onto Sears Street which runs parallel to and midway between Cayuga and Tioga Streets), was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

The Dewitt park adjacent and the Dewitt building were named after Simeon De Witt who was a Geographer and Surveyor General of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and Surveyor General of the State of New York for the fifty years from 1784 until his Death in Ithaca, NY in 1834.

Fun Fact there is also an adaptive reuse of a “Dewitt Building” into a mixed use mall/ apts. in Duluth, MN;

Check out this photos of the school building under construction,

For a Complete history of Dewitt , check out this link;

Images courtesy Google image search,,


Andrew Petruzzelli

HOLT Architects, P.C.
217 N. Aurora St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
phone 607 273-7600 Ext. 151
fax 607 273-0475


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s