HUDSON – The Hudson Opera House announced Monday it is moving forward with the largest phase of its preservation efforts, the centerpiece of which is the restoration of its upstairs performance hall. Renovation is expected to be completed in spring 2017, marked by the organization’s inaugural 2017-18 season of programming in its newly restored performance hall.
“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 thus far,” said Executive Director Gary Schiro, in a press release. “The full-scale restoration of our facility will allow the Hudson Opera House to celebrate its historic legacy while offering an elevated range and level of programming that it cannot currently present.”
“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,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D), in the release. “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.”
The Opera House has also announced the launch of an $8.5 million campaign to support the Next Stage Capital Project. To date, $7 million towards this goal has been secured with lead gifts from the Board of Directors; public support from Empire State Development, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, New York State Council on the Arts; and private funds from foundations and individuals including major gifts from the Educational Foundation of America and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also provided investment through its Community Facilities program, secured with assistance from Senator Gillibrand and in partnership with Kinderhook Bank, which aims to improve rural community infrastructure and quality of life. These funds will enable the performance hall to re-open in 2017 while the Hudson Opera House works to secure the final $1.5 million needed for additional fixtures and fittings, soft costs, and operating capacity.
“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,” stated Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D—106th).
“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,” added Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky.
When complete, the performance hall will be adapted for modern use, creating a flexible 300-seat theater.
Interior goals for the Hudson Opera House construction include rehabilitation of the performance hall, mezzanine, stage, and support spaces, including five dressing rooms, a lighting and sound booth, Green Room, laundry, and accessible restrooms. These renovations will restore the theater into a high quality, professional grade working venue suitable for a diverse range of programming and public events. The exterior space will also be treated to an upgrade: exterior masonry and windows and doors will be restored, while a new roof, fire stairs and restored cornice have already been completed.
Steps are also being taken to modernize the building and ensure accessibility, safety, and security for employees and visitors. Work will include lead and asbestos abatement and new electrical, fire protection, and HVAC systems. A new elevator tower in the southeast corner of the building will provide access to the basement, main and auditorium levels of the building. For the first time in the building’s history, the performance hall will be accessible to all, including those who, because of age or disability, are unable to use the historic staircase.
Marilyn Kaplan, principal architect of Preservation Architecture in Albany, has been the lead architect on the project since 1993, guiding the Opera House through 12 capital projects to re-open the first floor and stabilize the building. Consigli Construction, with offices in Dutchess County and Albany, has been awarded the contract through a public bidding process.
Chris Buckley of Production & Performance Facility Consulting is providing design services for the performance and rehearsal facilities. Proper & O’Leary Engineering is the project’s structural and civil engineering firm, and specializes in historic preservation and public sector projects. Landmark Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in existing historic and landmark buildings, will serve as the Opera House’s Owners Representatives.
Built in 1855 as the City Hall, the Hudson Opera House contains New York State’s oldest surviving theater. From its founding until the building was abandoned in 1962, the theater provided a space for some of the most exciting cultural, social and political events of the day. After sitting vacant for 30 years, a group of local volunteers banded together to return the building to community use as a multi-arts center for diverse audiences. Since re-opening in the 1990’s, the Hudson Opera House has been at the center of Hudson’s recovery. Over $3 million has been invested to stabilize the building and re-open the first floor.