107 Lake Street | Ithaca, New York

Report by Penny Crispin 

12 M. Chen. 2022.

Photos of 107 Lake Street House interior, Source: Melody Chen, 2022


A single-family home in the city of Ithaca (Figure 1) is currently slated
for demolition to make room for an expansion of the neighboring
property’s center for Jewish students of Cornell University. The 127-
year-old house’s destruction is currently on pause, however, after
being recognized as the home of a historical figure. Relocation and
deconstruction are being considered as possible means to recognize
and preserve the social, economic, and environmental value of the
building, its history, and its architectural elements.



Figure 2 ArcGIS. 2022. Edited by P. Crispin.

107 Lake Street in the City of Ithaca is located near the intersection of Lake Street and Willard Way(Figure 2)in Ward 5. There is currently a wood-framed 2.5 story home built in 1895 (Property Details -Image Mate Online, n.d.)with a detached wooden garage. The building’s most recent use has been as a rental home, most likely for Cornell students due to its proximity to Cornell University and University housing. Its current Land Use is designated for Campus/University.

The parcel containing 107 Lake Street is zoned R-2a by the city of Ithaca(Figure 3). This zoning designation allows for single-family and two-family detached or semi-detached units, as well as structures relating to Church, public parks, libraries, and fire stations of no more than 3 stories in height (Zoning | Ithaca, NY -Official Website, n.d.).


107 Lake Street is located at the border between the Fall Creek neighborhood of Ithaca and the Cornell University campus. The immediate area has a number of single family homes built between 1870-1935(Zillow Inc., n.d.), student apartment complexes, and Cornell-owned student buildings such as the Roitman Chabad Center, Cooperative houses, and Greek organization houses. The zoning for these surrounding areas is R-2a (single and two-family housing, which includes 107 Lake Street), and R-3a and R-U(dormitories, cooperative, fraternity, and sorority housing, etc.) (Zoning | Ithaca, NY - Official Website, n.d.).

Within walking distance to the North is the Ithaca Falls Natural Area, a park with views of 107 Lake Street, Ithaca NY. To the East is the Cornell West campus. To the West is the Fall Creek neighborhood, and to the South is the Ithaca City Cemetery.

Plan for Redevelopment

Figure 3 Urbanfootprint - City and Town of Ithaca Data Clearinghouse -City of Ithaca Zoning Shp, edited by P. Crispin

The 107 Lake Street house with 2,046 developed ft2is located on a 10,160 ft2lot was sold to the Roitman Chabad Center of Cornell University in 2015(Property Details -Image Mate Online, n.d.).The Chabad Center, which primarily serves Jewish Cornell students, in 2020 first submitted plan sto consolidate their adjacent parcel at 102 Willard Way Street with the 107 Lake Street parcel and then to build approximately 5,000 ft2of new structure, consisting of program spaces above a parking garage with 10 parking spaces (Jason K Demarest Architecture, 2002).This consolidation and expansion would create a significant amount of new space for social and community gatherings for the Jewish students who attend Cornell University and connect two existing Chabat Center buildings.The proposed new building’s footprint can be seen in Figure 5in the black outline. The house and detached garage slated for demolition are seen in orange.

Jason K Demarest Architecture has submitted and revised detailed plans and renderings of the proposed project(Figure 8). The 107 Lake Street and 102 Willard Way parcels are zoned R-2a, and the intended uses of the Chabad Center expansion are permitted by the zoning designation, which allows for buildings related to church, school, daycare, and neighborhood commercial facility (Zoning | Ithaca, NY -Official Website, n.d.). The March 11th City of Ithaca Board of Planning agenda noted that the project “will require variances for lot coverage, front-, rear-and side-yards, and parking” (Nicholas, n.d.)., but tThe application for the building permit submitted for the expansion indicated that the land is not located in any special municipal district (Jason K Demarest Architecture, 2022). The City of Ithaca has indicated that the plan is not anticipated to cause significant impacts on air quality, agricultural resources, aesthetic views, open space or recreation, or critical environmental areas (City of Ithaca, 2020).

Historical Significance

Jason K Demarest Architecture. 2002. Perspective view from West of the planned development on the 107 Lake Street parcel

Perspective view from West of the planned development on the 107 Lake Street, Source: Jason K Demarest Architecture, 2002

From 1901 until 1937, 107 Lake Street was home to William Strunk Jr and his family (C. O’Malley, 2022). Strunk taught at Cornell University as an Assistant Professor of English starting in 1899, became an English Professor in 1909, and then became a Professor Emeritus in 1937 (University & Faculty, 1946). While teaching at Cornell and living at 107 Lake Street, Strunk wrote The Elements of Style (Figure 9), which originally served as his “little text book” for his students (Strunk et al., 2000), was published in 1918, and by 1959 sold over 10 million copies and became a highly influential book for writers (Roberts, 2009).

Due to Strunk’s historical significance, the house could be considered for its national significance, if it meets the National Register Criteria, which states that:

“Criterion B applies to properties associated with individuals whose specific contributions to history can be identified and documented. Persons "significant in our past" refers to individuals whose activities are demonstrably important within a local, State, or national historic context. The criterion is generally restricted to those properties that illustrate (rather than commemorate) a person's important achievements... Properties eligible under Criterion B are usually those associated with a person's productive life, reflecting the time period when he or she achieved significance. In some instances this may be the person's home; in other cases, a person's business, office, laboratory, or studio may best represent his or her contribution.”(U.S. Department of the Interior, 1995)

The house could also be considered for its local significance and designation as an historic landmark by the Ithaca Landmark Preservation Commission. The “City of Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Ordinance” similarly lists one of the criteria for consideration of landmark designation as “is identified with historically significant person(s) or event(s)” (Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission | Ithaca, NY -Official Website, n.d.).

After the site plan submission in 2020, Christine O’Malley of Historic Ithaca, Inc. brought the historical significance of the previous inhabitant and his writing of The Elements of Style while living at107 Lake Street to the attention of the architect of the Chabad Center expansion, Jason Demarest, of Jason K Demarest Architecture (C. O’Malley, e-mail communications, 2020). In a series of emails between them and including the Roitman Chabad Center Board, Bryan McCracken of the City of Ithaca, and Susan Holland ofHistoric Ithaca, Inc., the historic value of the house and the interest of preservation has been discussed.It was noted by Demarest that the architecture and interior have little historic value of their own, but that he was willing to work with parties who would potentially be interested in relocating or deconstructing the building(J. Demarest, e-mail communications, 2020).

In 2020, progress toward the expansion and addition project was paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When it was brought back to the City of Ithaca Department of Planning and Development in January of 2022, the conversations about the building’s future resumed. During a site visit of the 107 Lake Street house, representatives fromHistoric Ithaca, Inc., and the Circular Construction Lab of Cornell University, which are both members of the Circularity, Reuse and Zero Waste Development (CR0WD) network, among others, toured the home to evaluate the potential historical value of the architectural and interior structures.Melody Chen’s photographs of the interior of the building show that floors have been carpeted, walls and ceilings have had wood paneling added, wood and brick has been painted, and historic character has not been retained (Figures 10-12).(Melody Chen is a graduate student filmmaker within theCornell Just Places Lab and is assisting the Cornell Circular Construction Lab.)

After the City of Ithaca Planning Board meeting on February 22, 2022, Christine O’Malley quoted Jason Demarest’s position on the preservation and historic value of 107 Lake Street:

“All of the historic features and fabric will be made available to interested parties. Deconstruction salvage work is being explored. Historic Ithaca has also made the project team aware of the history of this property. It was the former home of William Strunk, the author of the Elements of Style. Strunk, a Cornell professor, apparently lived here when he wrote the book. The Chabad Center is willing to erect a historic marker on the property to identify this property and its history. Likewise, the house is offered at no charge to anyone willing to find a new home and move it. It seems logical that Cornell and Historic Ithaca may want to work together to relocate the house, and there appears to be room adjacent to Cornell’s parking lot across from the Chabad Center on University Ave. In addition to donating the structure, the avoided cost of demolition (TBD) is available to anyone willing to undertake this endeavor. If the house ends up being demolished, the owner will undertake all necessary hazardous material surveys and protocols for demolition.”(C. O’Malley, e-mail communication, 2022).

Future of the Site

Figure 1 P. Crispin. 2002. 107 Lake Street house.

At this time, it remains to be determined whether the house located at 107 Lake Street will be relocated to another lot in the city of Ithaca or if it will be designated for deconstruction. One thing seems certain at this time, which is that Jason Demarest has indicated that either of these possibilities are prioritized above demolition of the structure. If the home retains enough historical value to be designated a HistoricProperty by the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission, or to be listed on the National Historic Registry, then this likely will take place after its relocation. If the building is deconstructed, Demarest has indicated that a historical markertcould be erected at the site to designate the significance of the location within Ithaca (Demarest, e-mail communication, 2022).In either outcome, resources will be saved from destruction, and structures will be saved for reuse, redeeming at least in part the house which was originally slated for complete demolition.




Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission | Ithaca, NY -Official Website. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://www.cityofithaca.org/346/Ithaca-Landmarks-Preservation-Commission

Property Details—Image Mate Online. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2022, from http://property.tompkins-co.org/IMO/propdetail.aspx?swis=500700&printkey=02900000010070000000

Roberts, S. (2009, April 21). ‘The Elements of Style’ Turns 50. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/books/22elem.html

University, C., & Faculty, O. of the D. of the U. (1946). William Strunk, Jr.https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/18663

Zillow Inc. (n.d.). 107 Lake St, Ithaca, NY 14850. Zillow. Retrieved March 12, 2022, from https://www.zillow.com/homes/107-lake-street,-ithaca-ny_rb/

Zoning | Ithaca, NY -Official Website. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://www.cityofithaca.org/151/Zoning

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