Two Fountain Place has been the home of six Ithaca College presidents over eight decades. However, the Ithaca College Board of Trustees has announced that the mansion will not be President Shirley M. Collado’s home.
In May, the board announced that Collado will live in an apartment in downtown Ithaca while it decides what to do with the mansion. According to a statement the board released on Intercom, the decision was made because of the cost and inconveniences that came with maintaining the 120–year-old mansion.
Tom Grape ’80, chair of the board of trustees, said that since the announcement was published, nothing has been decided about the fate of Fountain Place.
“The only real decision we’ve made at this point about Fountain Place is that it will no longer be used as the president’s residence,” Grape said. “Beyond that, we’re looking at various alternatives, and we have not made a further decision.”
Fountain Place was designed by William Henry Miller — the first graduate of the architecture school at Cornell University — and completed in 1892. It was then purchased by Ithaca College in 1938 to be the president’s residence. It is located near the end of Fountain PIace Road off East Buffalo Street, between Collegetown and the Commons.
Prior to Collado, only two college presidents have not taken residence there — both of them were presidents before the college owned Fountain Place, according to the Ithaca College website.
In addition to housing the college president and his or her family, Fountain Place has also been used to host important occasions for the college, such as alumni events and fundraisers. Collado said she agrees with the board’s decision to house her elsewhere while they are deciding what to do with Fountain Place.
“Van and I very much appreciate the apartment that the college has provided for us for this year to reside in,” she said. “I look forward to hosting traditional presidential events on campus, which in the past have otherwise been held at Fountain Place. The decision on the next permanent presidential residence is the board’s to make, and I trust their judgement.”
The mansion is currently estimated to be valued around $1.6 million according to Homesnap, a website that gives estimates of home values. Given the age of the building, upkeep can be expensive. In the 2015–16 college budget, over $30,000 was allotted to repairs, primarily to fix a leaky roof. And as the board pointed out in its announcement, it can be disruptive to do repair work on the building while the president is living there.
Stanley Seltzer, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, said he has visited Fountain Place on numerous occasions with his wife. While, he said, he believes that the board and the incoming president have every right to choose a suitable housing arrangement, he hopes that the college continues to make use of Fountain Place.
“Fountain Place is a treasure, an important part of IC’s history, and a resource that the college could use in many ways,” he said. “I think it’s really important for IC to continue its stewardship of this handsome structure.”
CORRECTION: This story was corrected to state the college does not pay any property taxes for Fountain Place because it is used for education purposes, making it exempt.