Empire State Development Announces Construction is Underway on Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs

Former Victorian-Era Church will be Transformed into Modern Community Performing Arts Facility

December 6, 2018

See photos here

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that construction is underway on Universal Preservation Hall (UPH) in downtown Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County. Through a working collaboration with Proctors, the 19th century church will be transformed into a state-of-the-art performing arts education and entertainment venue with a projected opening in spring 2020.

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "With its unique architecture, rich history and modern upgrades underway, Universal Preservation Hall will complement the vibrant arts and culture of downtown Saratoga Springs and transform a once-condemned building into a community destination."

UPH will invest $9.4 million into the restoration and renovation of the historic facility. Interior and exterior structural work will ensure the stability and sustainability of the building, and decorative finishes like the glass-enclosed atrium will showcase the building's heritage. Improvements to the infrastructure, from overhauling the heating and cooling systems to installing theatrical lighting, seating and an elevator, will make the performance spaces accessible to everyone. ESD has agreed to support this project with an $800,000 performance-based capital grant, recommended by the Capital Region Economic Development Council during Round V of the Regional Council initiative. The project was also awarded $750,000 through Round 5 of the Restore NY Communities Initiative.

Proctors Collaborative CEO Philip Morris said, "We thank ESD for its faith in this project, and we know that UPH will bring new life to Saratoga Springs year-round, enriching an already remarkable cultural environment."

Originally built in 1871 for the Methodist church to host its annual regional meeting, the church welcomed several notable speakers, including William Jennings Bryan, Frederick Douglass and President William Howard Taft. The Methodists sold the building to the Universal Baptist Church in 1976, who used the facility until it was deemed unsafe.

Once completed, UPH will combine a 700-seat theater-in-the-round with a community event space, offering year-round music and entertainment in downtown Saratoga Springs. The upstairs great hall will be transformed with new seating descending from the rear balcony and ascending into the apse on the other end of the 7,000 square-foot room. Movable platforms will allow the space to transform, depending on the requirements of any given performance; and a specifically designed sound system will deliver crystal clear tones throughout the room.

CREDC Co-Chairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, University at Albany President, and Ruth Mahoney, KeyBank Market President, said, "The adaptive reuse of Universal Preservation Hall furthers our regional priorities that support arts and cultural facilities, while adding an entertainment venue that complements the lively atmosphere of downtown Saratoga Springs."

Senator Kathleen A. Marchione said, "Universal Preservation Hall is an architectural jewel in downtown Saratoga, and this project will ensure that it will remain a fixture in the area for future generations of residents and visitors alike. I thank ESD for supporting the adaptive reuse of this historical building."

Assembly Member Carrie Woerner said, "I am always thrilled to see historic buildings preserved and restored in our communities. There is so much history in the Universal Preservation Hall and it is wonderful to see the building transformed into a space that not only maintains that history, but promotes the arts and arts education in our community as well."

Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly said, "UPH will be an important part of the ongoing revitalization of Saratoga Springs, socially, economically and artistically. As a year-round downtown anchor, it will serve visitors and tourists, but also be a boon for residents of the city and the region."

About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NEW YORK," the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov/  and www.esd.ny.gov.


Adam Ostrowski (ESD) | [email protected] | (518) 292-5148 | (800) 260-7313
ESD Press Office | [email protected] | (800) 260-7313