US Ceiling Corp tapped to transform new home of founding chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, nation’s first Black intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity

Award-winning MWBE construction firm to help reimagine 11,000-SF,
15-bedroom house located in Ithaca’s Cornell Heights Historic District

ITHACA, N.Y., August 16, 2023—US Ceiling Corp, an award-winning NYS Certified MWBE firm committed to diversifying the construction industry, today announced it will serve as general contractor for the founding chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha’s physical residence hall and program house, the “House of Alpha,” located in Ithaca’s Cornell Heights Historic District.

Owned by the 501c3 nonprofit Alpha Light Fund Inc., the 11,000-square-foot House of Alpha, located at 105 Westbourne Lane, not only becomes the first-ever permanent residence for brothers of the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., but also serves as a catalyst and platform to develop current and future leaders in all fields. The newly restored facility will be the location of the Alpha Light Fund Leadership Institute: a cultural destination site for support, rejuvenation, growth and development. The Institute’s programs and services are designed to strengthen and reimagine social impact to create a more just and equitable society.

Originally built in 1927, the 15-bedroom historic structure features exposed timber beams, slate roofing and custom finishes. Renovations include an ADA-accessible entrance, new mechanical and electrical systems, new signage and flooring, window and exterior siding restoration, sitework and exterior patios, and a structural steel addition and roof deck. US Ceiling Corp was awarded a contract to oversee demolition and abatement, and interior and exterior construction to transform the space for future occupants.

“As a minority- and woman-owned construction company continually working to build our capacity these past 22 years, we are deeply honored to partner with Alpha Light Fund and the founding chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha on such a historically significant initiative,” says US Ceiling Corp President Melissa James-Geska. This project represents a lot of firsts, most importantly for our trailblazing clients. To have a place to call home, that you own, right near Cornell University—where everything began in 1906—is beyond inspiring. This general contracting opportunity is also the first of its kind for my organization. We have worked very hard to break barriers and strengthen our value proposition and service offerings to be able to execute a project such as this, and we’re very grateful for the trust placed in our team and the opportunity to establish a foothold in the Ithaca market. We are also thrilled to be connecting with and hiring other skilled trade professionals in the area, as US Ceiling Corp is part of the Southworks development team, and this project is a wonderful catalyst for that initiative as well.”

“We are delighted to partner with US Ceiling Corp in their mission to empower lives and provide opportunities for marginalized individuals and underserved Black communities, which perfectly aligns with the goals of our organization,” says Alpha Light Fund President Dr. Dennis Mitchell. “Just as the founding of Alpha Chapter was like the ‘big bang’ from which all Black Greek organizations sprang, we hope this milestone for Alpha Phi Alpha’s founding chapter both provides significant value for the local Black community and sets a precedent that other Black Greek collegiate chapters across the globe will follow.”

AEPM International, LLC, a full-service, minority-owned architectural and engineering firm is overseeing the design of the project. Demolition and abatement for the residence hall is under way, and construction began in July. Prospective bidders interested in the project should contact US Ceiling Corp Preconstruction Manager Rich Nestlen at rich@usceiling.comcreate new email. Minority- and woman-owned construction companies are encouraged to participate.

Follow this developing story on US Ceiling Corp’s social media channels or the news section of their website.

About US Ceiling Corp
Based in Rochester, N.Y., with a growing presence in Ithaca, US Ceiling Corp ( is a social impact contractor that specializes in interior commercial, multifamily and residential construction. Now in its 22nd year, the award-winning NYS Certified M/WBE firm is committed to diversifying the construction industry and empowering lives. People-focused and purpose-driven, US Ceiling partners with like-minded organizations to provide skilled trades training and employment opportunities—helping people build economic self-reliance and inclusive, equitable communities that thrive. LinkedIn: US Ceiling Corp; Instagram: @us_ceiling_corp

About Alpha Light Fund
Alpha Light Fund Inc. [] is a 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to supporting initiatives and projects that improve the lives of young African-Americans and Black communities.

About Alpha Phi Alpha™
The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., headquartered in Baltimore, Md., was founded on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The Fraternity has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through Alpha men, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Andrew Young, Edward Brooke and Cornel West. The fraternity, through its more than 720 college and alumni chapters and general-organization members, serves communities in the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. Visit and follow Alphi Phi Alpha on Twitter @apa1906network.


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