Located at 122 Eddy Street in Collegetown, the Miller-Heller House was designed by William H. Miller and built on land formerly owned by Ezra Cornell. Situated in the East Hill Historic District, the house exhibits Miller's eclectic architectural interests and his characteristic attention to detail and ornamentation.
The dwelling Miller moved into with his newly-wedded wife in 1876 is at the core of the present structure. The original two-story house had three rooms downstairs. During the next 40 years, Miller made at least seven major additions. Miller's wife, Emma Halsey, is said to have remarked that every time she returned from a trip a new part of the house had been built.
In 1932, Lillian Purvis Heller bought the house from the Miller estate. Recently widowed, she had returned to Ithaca with the intention of doing something for Cornell students. During the next 24 years, she provided free lodging for some 200 students. In return, the students helped her with gardening and renovation projects.
Through Lillian Heller's generous bequest, Cornell University obtained the Miller-Heller House in 1957 specifically for AAP use. In 1981, a program of revitalization was developed by Elizabeth Hancock Sillin as part of her master's thesis. The previous year a group of historic preservation students extensively refurbished the walls, ceilings and floors of the first floor. Some rehabilitation work, which followed Sillin's recommendations, was undertaken by AAP in 1987–88, funded in part by the university. Structural improvements were overseen by a college faculty advisory committee. Furniture and decorative objects were collected under the supervision of Elsie Gutchess, an adviser-purveyor specializing in the 19th century.
The public rooms of the Miller-Heller House, including the dining, music, piano, and sitting rooms as well as a service kitchen, are used by AAP for administrative and social functions. These areas of the house are also available to other members of Cornell University for meetings, receptions, and other similar events. Three apartments located in the private section of the house are used as temporary residences by the college's visiting faculty and on occasion are available to other university visitors. A fourth apartment houses the property's caretaker.
Use of the Miller-Heller house is coordinated by the college's director of facilities, who may be reached through the AAP Dean's Office.