Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced significant renovations of the historic Hudson Opera House in Columbia County, the oldest surviving theater in New York State, are now underway.
"Rebuilding and revitalizing key historic and cultural assets like the Hudson Opera House, is a critical aspect of building strong, thriving communities," Governor Cuomo said. "The start of these renovations is a significant milestone in the rebirth of New York's oldest theater and once complete, this landmark will once again become a vibrant cultural center in the City of Hudson and the entire region."
The $8.5 million project will create 145 construction jobs and is being funding through a $1.3 million Capital Region Economic Development Council Capital Grant, a $1 million Restore NY Grant; $800,000 in grants from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Grants and $3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Loan Program. The remaining funding consists of investments from members of the Hudson Opera House Board of Directors and other private supporters.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "The Hudson Opera House is a historic gem, and I am pleased that major renovation and revitalization efforts are underway to bring the theater back to prominence. I fought to secure federal support to help rehabilitate the Hudson Opera House because it is critical that we preserve this community landmark for generations of New Yorkers to come. The newly restored theater will provide a diverse array of arts and educational programming while attracting tourism to the region and supporting local jobs and businesses."
Interior renovations will restore the theater into a high quality, professional grade working venue suitable for a diverse range of programming and rentals. Work includes the rehabilitation of the performance hall, mezzanine, stage, and support spaces including five dressing rooms, a Green Room, laundry, and accessible restrooms. The mezzanine will also house a new lighting and sound booth.
Additionally, the facility is being modernized to ensure accessibility, safety, and security for all staff and visitors. This work includes lead and asbestos abatement, new electrical, fire protection, and HVAC systems. Plus, a new elevator tower in the southeast corner of the building will make the performance hall fully accessible to all individuals for the first time in the building's history.
Exterior renovations include the restoration of masonry, windows and doors, in addition to a new roof and restored cornice which have already been completed. The performance hall expects to re-open to the public once this phase of renovations is completed in 2017.
Hudson Opera House Executive Director Gary Schiro said, "This is an extraordinary day in the life of this historic building, and I can't begin to express my gratitude to everyone who has played a part. The opening of the performance hall will allow the Hudson Opera House to continue to celebrate its history while leaping forward with a range and level of programming we cannot currently present. We look forward to reopening the space to artists, educators, and our public a year from now, when the Hudson Opera House will be transformed into a beacon for artistic discovery and exploration, lighting the way for the creative and economic revival of the region and thereby reclaiming its place as the City’s cultural anchor."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Hudson Opera House is a New York State treasure. By renovating this historic theater, we are creating a center for celebrating the region’s legacy and culture, while supporting its future economic growth through the new businesses and visitors that will be drawn to the downtown area for generations to come."
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "Historic landmarks and cultural destinations are fundamental building blocks of vibrant, livable communities. This investment in the Hudson Opera House will give people one more reason to live in and visit Hudson."
Capital Region Economic Development Council co-chairs, Albany Medical Center President and CEO James Barba and University at Albany President Robert J. Jones said, "As it moves into the next phase of its restoration, the Hudson Opera House will be even closer to playing a pivotal role in the cultural and economic advancement of our region. The CREDC is proud to have prioritized this project for funding, and we thank the Governor and the State Legislature for making this critical investment in our region."
New York State Senator Kathy Marchione, Chair of the Senate Local Governement Committee, said, "The Hudson Opera House is a cultural treasure, a precious artistic resource and a true historic asset for our Columbia County community and entire state. I applaud Governor Cuomo's continued commitment to preserving, protecting and enhancing such a cultural and community treasure by delivering significant state investments for this project. I also want to recognize the federal and private funding that will help this effort move forward. These investments are critical and will strengthen our Hudson community and showcase the arts and local artists in the brightest possible spotlight for the benefit of everyone."
New York State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett said, "The Hudson Opera House, a storied symbol of Hudson's colorful past, also stands as one of the brightest beacons in the region's remarkable revival. I thank the State of New York for generous support of this important social, cultural and economic driver and congratulate the Hudson Opera House's visionary and hardworking leadership team."
Columbia County Board of Supervisors Matt Murell said, "Thanks to the dedication and teamwork of local partners, along with support from New York State, we celebrate the next step in transforming this historic landmark. The Hudson Opera House will once again be an integral hub in the city’s downtown and set the stage for future economic growth throughout the entire region."
City of Hudson Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton said, “This is an exciting day for the City of Hudson, as we take a significant step toward completing the rehabilitation of this magnificent theater. I’d like to thank the Hudson Opera House team for preserving our city’s rich history and providing a platform for education and the arts to thrive.”
Local companies contracted to complete the renovations include Preservation Architecture; Consigli Construction; Production & Performance Facility Consulting; Proper & O'Leary Engineering; and Landmark Consulting.
About the Hudson Opera House
Built in 1855 as the City Hall for Hudson, New York, the Hudson Opera House contains New York State’s oldest surviving theater. From its founding until 1962, when the building was abandoned, the theater provided a space for some of the most exciting cultural, social and political events of the day. The great Hudson River School painters showed their paintings, Bret Harte read his poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a talk titled ‘Social Aims,’ and Susan B. Anthony visited twice, lecturing to abolish slavery and rallying the cry for women’s suffrage. And in 1914, Teddy Roosevelt regaled a crowd with his adventures in Africa.
Today, the Hudson Opera House continues its historic legacy, promoting the arts and playing a pivotal role in the cultural and economic advancement of the region. We serve more than 50,000 individuals and families annually through performances, exhibits, talks, and youth and senior programs, the majority of which celebrate our local history, talent and region, all within our current facility. Truly, the Hudson Opera House is an example of a historical landmark that celebrates the timeless spirit of our place while serving as a vital resource for the cultural and economic quality of life in our region. Visit www.hudsonoperahouse.org to learn more.
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