The View from Edgemoor Lane

Original House (1896)

Lambda Chi Alpha occupies perhaps the most desirable plot of land of any Cornell fraternity: overlooking Cascadilla Gorge, only a 3-minute walk from Collegetown, close to central campus. Edgemoor, our home, is a magnificent 1896 Tudor; its renovation and expansion, completed in 2015, was the largest such project of any privately-owned house in Cornell history.

The front landscaping was contributed by Jim Sollecito '76, and the new road sign by R. Paul Williamson '66. But these aside, the front of the house looks much as it did when first constructed, as the Arts and Crafts movement was spreading: dormers peeking through the hipped roof, exposed half-timber, and high mullioned windows. Phil Prigmore '69, chief architect for the 2015 renovation, extended this treatment to the new wing, so that from all angles, the house appears as a unified wing. Such is the quality of the work that the new wing is almost indistinguishable from the original house to the casual visitor.


The property, like much of West Campus, was owned by Ezra Cornell up to the edge of the Gorge, in the possession of the Treman family. In 1893, Franklin C. Cornell, Ezra's son, transferred the plot to Liberty Hyde Bailey, then a professor of horticulture, and he conveyed it to the New York Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Theta to build a new chapter house. Phi Delt built the original house and occupied it in 1896, the first property in Ithaca with an Edgemoor Lane address. Lambda Chi Alpha, which had been living in crowded quarters in the original ISWZA house at 614 Stewart Avenue, seized the opportunity to buy the house in 1921, and has held on to it ever since.

The stone front patio was not a feature of the house at purchase; the oldest photos show only the path to the road, with windows visible on the north side of the rathskeller and bar next to the coal chute leading to the old coal room. By 1931, a front porch area is apparent from photographs, although it is uncertain exactly when it was installed. This work remained in place until the summer of 1966, when Dave Shannon '69 availed himself of slate being discarded from construction work on Willard Straight Hall, and spent several weeks hauling suitable pieces back to the house and placing them in appropriate spots around the crumbling patio. A Montana native, he inscribed his family's cattle brand in the cement near the front door, a reverse E, slash, and letter M. This work lasted another three decades, until ISWZA voted funds to have it professionally reconstructed. Nearly all of the stone was replaced, and the staircase to the parking lot also upgraded with new material.