At the December 1st meeting, Frost Travis presented the awards for the annual City of Ithaca/Rotary Club Pride of Ownership Awards. The program was born as a partnership between the city and the Rotary club in 1997, thanks to Susan Blumenthal, then the chair of the City’s Planning Committee. The awards are for properties within the city limits and honor improvements and projects that can be seen from the street. 

Ports of New York
815 Tabor Street
Owner: Frederic Bouche

Along quiet, hidden Tabor Street near the inlet, Frédéric Bouché has created an original business in an original building. From an abandoned house he has painstakingly built a small singular jewel, sheathed in salvaged architectural materials, which belies the clean modern interior that houses his winery, Ports of New York. Coming from a family with a long history of wine making in Bordeaux and Normandy, Frédéric has brought those skills to Ithaca and will be offering his first product of fortified wines in the spring of 2011. He has not only single-handedly crafted his product, but designed and constructed his space, bringing forth a new form both fitting its function and advertizing its purpose. The winery, along with its small storage twin behind it, appears like a structure from another time, playfully referencing in its design the precedents of canal buildings and small town American shops and workspaces. The result is a picturesque flight of the imagination that befits its industrial and water setting as well as hints lightheartedly at the festive contents within.

111 Cascadilla Avenue
Jim Mazza and Nancy Osborn

The poet Robert Frost famously said that good fences make good neighbors. If this is indeed the case, then the neighbors of Jim Mazza and Nancy Osborn must be very good indeed, or at least quite pleased. Jim and Nancy have created a thoughtful, well-detailed and thoroughly delightful exterior project for their home at 111 Cascadilla Avenue. Like many residential projects, it has been a long labor of love for the owners, who, with the aid of architectural designer Ken Vineberg and architect Ernie Bayles, turned a duplex built in 1904 into a single-family house with a top-to-bottom renovation about ten years ago. Architect Bayles returned to assist in the new project, which consisted of a kitchen pantry addition for baking and renovations for two of the house’s five porches (by local contractor Jeb Smith), as well as extensive landscape work. Ornamental fencing (erected by Nate Bishop Landscaping) along the property line both defines and dignifies the public edge of the home, and creates within the private realm an intricate and wonderfully detailed new garden, which will be planted this spring. Masonry work, including granite curbing, a bluestone entrance path, and a secluded fieldstone patio in the rear root the house firmly in its surroundings. For the casual stroller along Cascadilla Creek, the final effect is a great addition to a great neighborhood walk. "The creek and the garden connect us more deeply with our community,” says Jim Mazza. “We’ve met literally hundreds of neighbors and out-of-town visitors -- many of whom stop by to swap stories, share gardening tips, or talk about life in and along the creek. And without question, their presence and their stories have enriched our lives.”


In 2006, a block weighing several hundred pounds fell from the top of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. Fortunately no one was hurt. The following year, several pipes broke, causing the leaking of sewage during the center’s summer camp. Then the old steam boiler failed. Clearly, the historic former school building was ready for a major and very expensive overhaul. GIAC serves our community by providing multicultural, education, and recreation programs. Its diverse offerings include ESL classes, after-school care, employment training, programs for teenagers, summer camp, a senior breakfast program, and an adult basketball league. The hardworking GIAC staff was faced not only with finding funds to renovate their home base, but with finding space to carry on with their programs.

Their appeals met with a warm response from all corners of the community. A $4 million funding package was put together by the City of Ithaca and the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency, Beverly J. Martin Elementary School provided temporary program space, as did the Southside Center and the Northside Community Center.

The GIAC renovation is both functional and beautiful. The major mechanical systems were replaced, making the building safer, easier to maintain, and more energy efficient. Further energy savings were achieved with complete window replacement, including those on the Albany Street side that echo the original windows from 1923. The building meets basic LEED standards. The most striking change is the new front entrance on Albany Street, a covered plaza that is both more secure and more welcoming than the old multiple entrances, and will eventually offer space for performances and art work.

LaBella Associates of Rochester was the architect for the GIAC project and the work was done by Ciappa & Marinelli Builders Ltd of Ithaca, Broadwell Electric of Ithaca, Kimble, Inc., and C&S Plumbing. The renovation began in September 2009 and was completed in June 2010, just in time for summer camp!

201 Second Street
Dianne Ferris, owner

201 Second Street is a classic Late Victorian vernacular Northside home. Dianne Ferriss has lived here for thirty years, and her stewardship exemplifies many trends that we see in the Pride of Ownership Awards program: consistent maintenance, intelligent modifications, neighborhood involvement, and the participation of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services and Significant Elements.

This house at the corner of Second and Monroe was one of the first Northside homes to be rehabilitated by INHS, which turned it from a chopped-up apartment building back into a single-family home in 1980. Dianne Ferris and her family moved in shortly thereafter. In 1988 they built an extension over the kitchen, adding a mudroom, bedroom, bath, and office nook. The architect, contractor, and an additional helper were all Northside neighbors. INHS provided loans for upgrades over the years, including window replacement, blown-in insulation, bathroom and kitchen updates, Energy Star appliances, and an energy efficient boiler.

Most recently Ms. Ferris completely replaced the home’s exterior with new cedar boards and repointed the stone foundation. Again this became a neighborhood project, as both the carpenter and mason live on First Street and the painter grew up on Second Street.

The house on its corner lot now boats a tricolor paint job, sturdy new porches, repointed foundation, elegant window moldings, and new shutters fashioned from some old ones found at Significant Elements. The house is attractive and inviting from all angles and even has a tiny new garden visible from the Monroe Street side, with a path, birdbath, and potted annuals.

Kitchen Theatre

The Kitchen Theatre moved from the historic Clinton House to its newly renovated intimate home at 417 W. State/Martin Luther King St. this past fall. The move accomplished several goals for the small theatre group founded in 1991. The new building increased seating capacity and provided improved amenities like energy-efficient heating and cooling and enlarged restroom facilities. Upon completion of the Phase 2 Third floor, rehearsal and office space will be together under one roof. The theatre also gained the much-needed advantage of property ownership to add to its long-term financial viability.

The façade, designed by NYC based architect Karen Lee, was re-imagined as a modern up-to-date structure that includes a new glass “beacon” entryway. The beacon, extending above the roofline, is the focal point for the façade. It makes the building visible from a distance and provides an open view into the theatre lobby for passersby. Future plans include painting a mural on the exterior walls to further enhance the building’s presence.

The Kitchen Theatre is a welcome new neighbor in Ithaca’s up-and-coming West End, bringing 99 people a night to the neighborhood’s nearby food and drink establishments for their over 150 performance year-round. This nighttime activity adds to the sense that the West End is a growing part of the city where things are happening.

Hangar Theatre

Housed in a former airplane hangar built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration, the Hangar Theatre completed renovations to its aging playhouse this past summer to transform it into a year-round facility. The city owned structure is a key gateway building in Cass Park and has a prominent position since residents and tourists first view it as they enter the city. Housing professional summer theatre, the building was in sore need of repair to its dressing rooms, lavatories, green room and storage areas.

Renovations to the facility by HOLT Architects include winterization, storm water management, lobby redesign, new auditorium seats, upgraded and expanded restroom facilities, and improved access and indoor safety. On the outside, handsome redesign improvements were made to incorporate enhanced entranceways and a new café area. Special exterior features painted a bright red on the south side of the building include the re-use of the original airplane hangar doors and a large metal decorative grid system that enliven the façade walls.

These changes update the building but still preserve a piece of Ithaca’s history, illustrating once again that old buildings can be reused to meet modern needs.