Displaying items by tag: universal preservation hall

Thursday, 18 November 2021 14:33

Upcoming Schedule at Universal Preservation Hall

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Proctors Collaborative has announced the next block of upcoming shows at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs.

After a brief opening in Feb. 2020, as with many venues across the country, UPH had to close its doors briefly before opening again during the COVID-19 pandemic as an exhibit hall in July 2020.

“UPH is incredibly unique and adaptable as a year-round cultural center with multiple spaces. Our main performance space is a 700-seat, state-of-the-art theatre in the round and has been designed so that no audience member will be farther than 60 feet from the performer. There’s not a bad seat in the house,” said Teddy Foster, director of UPH, in a statement.

Max Weinberg’s Jukebox - 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 The Great Hall at UPH, $39.50 - $69.50.

Storm Large: Holiday Ordeal - 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16
The Great Hall at UPH, $37 - $77.

It’s a Jazzy Christmas - 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18.
The Great Hall at UPH, $27.50.

The Bad Plus – 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13.
The Great Hall at UPH, $27 - $43.

Hipster Assassins 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28.
The Great Hall at UPH, $17 - $37.

Bakithi Kumalo & the Graceland Experience - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5
The Great Hall at UPH, $17 - $37.

Howard Jones Acoustic Trio -7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12.
The Great Hall at UPH, $27 - $67.

The King’s Singers - 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17.
The Great Hall at UPH, $23 - $58.

The Seven Wonders – Fleetwood Mac Tribute - 7 p.m. Friday, March 4.
The Great Hall at UPH, $17.50 - $42.50.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo - 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5.
The Great Hall at UPH, $32.50 - $62.50.

Irish Hooley with The Screaming Orphans - 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12.
The Great Hall at UPH, $25.

Spa City Guitar Festival - Friday – Sunday, March 18-20.
The Great Hall at UPH, $32.50.

Top of the World – a Carpenter’s Tribute - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26
The Great Hall at UPH, $23 - $57.

Brad Mehldau - 7 p.m. Friday, April 15.
The Great Hall at UPH, $35 - $65.

Journeyman - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22.
The Great Hall at UPH, $17 - $37. 

All tickets are available by phone at 518-346-6204 or online at universalpreservationhall.org.

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 11 March 2021 13:07

Caffè Lena & UPH Setting the Stage for 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS — One year after battening down the hatches in response to the oncoming 2020 pandemic, area performance venues are starting to piece together their plans for reopening. 

“The one-year anniversary of shuttering the venue, with no clear end in sight - but then came the sudden news that performing arts venues in New York State are allowed to re-open at 33% capacity on April 2,” said Caffè Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig, in a posting on the venue’s website. “It means we can stop treading water and we can start swimming toward a goal.” 

The café plan is to reopen April 2 with safety protocols in place. While guidance would allow 35 people at the venue, the capacity will be limited to an audience of 24. 

“We won’t serve food and drink yet. That means masks can (must) stay on from entry to exit,” Craig said. “We’re getting the air filter systems that we didn’t think we’d need ’til September. Even so, we’ll keep the windows open a little. Wear a sweater.”

 Caffè Lena first opened in May 1960 as a small beatnik coffeehouse, Bob Dylan first visited the club in 1961 and played a full weekend of shows for which he was paid a total of $50. Appearances by Rosalie Sorrels brought admirers like Hunter S. Thompson and William Kennedy to the venue, and in the fall of 1965, Don McLean made his first of his many appearances at the café.

In the 12 months since everything shut down, the café counts 209 livestreams it had broadcast and $100,000 raised for musicians.    

In the meantime, Lenas continues to broadcast a slew of productions via its online platforms. For more information, go to: caffelena.org

“We’re at the beginning of the end,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, during his March 9 presser. “The end is the vaccine. The vaccine is the weapon that wins the war. It’s going to still be an annoying few months, but we’re getting there.”   

Plans are also underway at the 700-seat theater-in-the-round space at Universal Preservation Hall (UPH).

“We will open the hall in July for the School of the Performing Arts for Kids – a rock music camp for middle-schoolers, and our goal is to become an exhibit hall in the summer,” says Teddy Foster, campaign director at UPH. 

“I don’t know what April will bring, so right now we are holding tight, but we will be doing another exhibit this summer – which was our plan all along, to become an exhibit hall in the summer and put on really cool, family-friendly exhibits which will also help draw people downtown.”

Last year’s interactive summerlong exhibition featured music-themed pinball machines and memorabilia from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that featured artifacts used by everyone from Dolly Parton to Alice Cooper.   

“Even in the middle of the pandemic last summer our pinball exhibit brought in 2,000 people,” Foster says. In “normal” times, UPH anticipates it will serve an estimated 65,000 visitors per year, with a $3.5 million annual economic impact as a year-round venue space, according to a statement issued in 2018, 

The building was erected in 1871 and served as a Methodist church for its first 100 years, as well as playing a role in the city’s civic life by providing a venue for visiting statesmen including Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan and Frederick Douglass. But by the 1960s, it had fallen on hard times. Local preservationists organized a nonprofit group and helped save the structure. More recently, Foster oversaw an operating alliance created with Proctors, and a $13.5 million renovation project that followed was celebrated with a fabulous opening night performance featuring Rosanne Cash last Feb. 29 to re-christen the grand hall.

This coming summer’s exhibition, which Foster didn’t identify by name, is currently being negotiated and anticipated to open in late July for a display that will be active for a number of months. When the venue does reopen to the public, everything will be staged in a safe manner, Foster says. “One of the things that makes UPH so safe to be in is we have an extremely high-tech HVAC system and we clean like maniacs, so people will be able to come into our building with confidence because it’s safe.”    

For more information about UPH, go to universalpreservationhall.org

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:48

UPH Presents: Misty Blues

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Universal Preservation Hall presents a live-stream virtual concert Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. of Williamstown, MA recording artist Misty Blues. The group is celebrating the release of their 10th album in over two decades together. 

Following a live performance of their new album, “None More Blue,” the band will celebrate Black History Month with a performance of the “Queens of the Blues” soundtrack. The “Queens of the Blues” movie showcases the lives of four African-American female blues artists - Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Ruth Brown and Koko Taylor - who left an indelible mark on popular blues for generations to come. 

All original compositions on “None More Blue” were written during the pandemic and shed light on the creative connections band members were able to maintain in a primarily virtual and remote environment. The early single release from the album, “Nothing To Lose,” has taken the Roots Music Contemporary Blues Charts by storm. The album release date is Feb. 14. 

Tickets for the livestream event are $20 and available at: universalpreservationhall.org 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Beatles and The Stones. Elvis to Metallica. Kiss to Dolly Parton, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Alice Cooper to The Who. There’s something for most everyone to see and interactively experience at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibition, which opened this week at Universal Preservation Hall. The show runs through late September. 

Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball beginning Sunday, July 26 for a two-month run. The interactive exhibit showcases rock-themed, playable pinball machines and combines them with merchandise and artifacts to explore the artistic portrayal of artists and bands. 

On display are 16 playable rock ‘n’ roll themed pinball machines in all, in addition to an assortment of music artifacts on display hailing from the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll. 

A “Tommy” pinball machine – owing a nod to the Who and the group’s opus Tommy is here, as is group guitarist Pete Townshend’s acoustic guitar – which he used to compose “Pinball Wizard” and several other songs for the ’Tommy,’ album, and which fortunately he did not smash. 

Making its debut as part of the exhibit is Alice Cooper’s new pinball machine –  “Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle,” a horror adventure game narrated by Cooper himself and featuring songs spanning Cooper’s career. The pinball machine is joined by the exhibit of the Alice Cooper group’s original electric chair show prop, upon which the band’s singer sat and performed on stages across the world in 1971. 

Additional items on display include Peter Criss of KISS’ drum set, Dolly Parton’s dress, memorabilia connected to the early days of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley, as well as a metallic ode tracing their legend to Metallica and Judas Priest.    

As for the pinball machines, which are playable, they deliver the bings, bongs, and dual flipper action polyrhythms associated with the likes of Elton John, KISS, AC/DC and others. 

UPH, a partner in the Proctors Collaborative, will sell tickets for 90-minute blocks throughout the run. Tickets will be available for admittance at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day and hours will be extended to include 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. admittance on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The event concludes on Saturday, Sept. 26. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and are available now at universalpreservationhall.org.    

“Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball,” is presented at UPH by Adirondack Trust Company. 

UPH will follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State safety guidelines in establishing safety protocol for exhibit visitors. Each visitor, staff person and volunteer will be required to bring and wear a face mask and to wear provided gloves while playing the pinball machines. All individuals will also be required to maintaining proper social distancing. UPH staff will also take and record each individual’s temperature and procure proper tracing information, and sanitize all surfaces including handrails, light switches, elevators, exhibit pieces, restrooms and common surfaces before new groups are admitted. Capacity will be initially limited to 20 guests per time slot and will re-evaluated regularly. 

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 05 March 2020 15:00

Curtains Up: UPH Unveils 700 Seat Theater

Universal Preservation Hall, a new 700-seat theater-in-the-round performance space, just prior to the first-night opening of the doors, on Feb. 29, 2020. Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — “How do you like us now!”

Teddy Foster beamed beneath the sparkle of stage lights Saturday night, unveiling the grand room to the eyes of several hundred theater goers. 

“I’ve been waiting to say that a long time,” said the newly named director of Universal Preservation Hall, which stands on Washington Street, one block west of Broadway. “A really, really long time.” 

Foster joined the board at UPH in 2006, became its president three years later and has stewarded the grand old church building from the brink of obliteration to its present-day promise as a thriving performance and community center in downtown Saratoga Springs.

It was built in 1871 and served as a Methodist church for its first 100 years, as well as playing a role in the city’s civic life by providing a venue for visiting statesmen including Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan and Frederick Douglass. But by the 1960s, it had fallen on hard times. Downtown Saratoga was in decline and the Methodist congregation relocated to a new building outside of town. The church sat empty for several years. A local Baptist congregation bought it for $18,000 in 1976 but hadn’t the means to preserve and restore the aging structure.

In 2000, the city condemned the building. Local preservationists organized a nonprofit group and reached out to the Baptist congregation to help save the structure. Donations paid for an initial wave of renovation work beginning in 2003. The building was stabilized but the restoration effort ground to a halt with the economic collapse of 2008-09.

The venue had housed a smattering of events in recent years – from fashion shows to First Night celebrations, and concerts by Colin Hay and John Sebastian. Max Weinberg – drummer of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, brought his 15-piece big band to UPH in 2010, and Brooklyn-based band Cuddle Magic performed a memorable mixed-media show at the hall with pianist Phyllis Chen and novelist and short story writer Rick Moody in 2014. Because the renovations were only partly completed, however, the maximum occupancy of the hall was severely restricted.

 “I was smart enough to realize I needed either a plan to move forward or an exit plan,” Foster said, speaking about the future of UPH in 2015. “You’re remembered not for how you start something but how you leave it. I didn’t want to be remembered as the woman who let down Universal Preservation Hall. So, we got busy.”

In the summer of 2015, following three years of discussions, an operating alliance was created with Proctors, the historic theater in downtown Schenectady that has served as a performing arts destination in that city since the 1970s.

A $13.5 million renovation project followed. The original stained glass windows and the building’s pews have been restored. New seating descends from the rear balcony and, on the other end of the 7,000 square-foot room, ascend into the apse. Movable platforms allow the space to open up, depending on the requirements of any given performance. There is a new glass atrium entryway and elevator, and a state-of-the-art sound system. The architecture maintains its Gothic accents and re-opened to the public on Feb. 29, Leap Day.     

“When we saw it was possible to open on this day, we leapt,” quipped Proctors CEO Philip Morris on opening night. The Proctors Collaborative includes Proctors in Schenectady, Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre and now UPH in Saratoga Springs. 

The 700-seat theatre-in-the-round set-up is not alien to longtime regional theater goers, sharing the performer-audience intimacy of the former Starlite Music Theater - which began its life as the Colonie Musical Theater in 1958, before taking the more familiar Colonie Coliseum name in the early 1970s. 

It seems fitting Rosanne Cash was selected as the debut performer in the re-christening of the grand hall. The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash was 9 years old when the Man In Black performed at the 5,000-seat Convention Hall on Broadway on a November night in 1964 in support of his then-new album “I Walk The Line.” One year later, Saratoga Springs’ largest indoor venue went up in flames. The emergence of UPH marks the return of a mid-sized, year-round venue to the downtown district. According to a statement issued in 2018, UPH will serve an estimated 65,000 visitors per year, with a $3.5 million annual economic impact as a year-round venue space. 

As for parking, UPH is located within a few hundred feet from the four-level parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue. The structure, built in 2012, holds about 450 vehicles. The garage will provide easy access to a planned glassed-in entryway to the east of the hall’s current entrance.

Upcoming concerts at UPH include:  An Evening with Chris Botti 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6. $79.50 - $179.50; Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame Ceremony 6 p.m. Monday, March 9, $50; Howard Jones Acoustic Trio 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, $29.50 - $69.50; Irish Hooley with the Screaming Orphans 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15, $25.

Rochmon Record Club which began its monthly gathering under the guidance of music savant Chuck Vosganian, AKA “Rochmon,” will mark its return to UPH at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, when the offering will feature a presentation of Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” Tickets are $25.

Tickets for all shows are available by phone at 518-881-4500, online at universalpreservationhall.org or at the Box Office at 25 Washington St. 

Published in News
Friday, 14 February 2020 10:44

Art with Heart and Hope at UPH in May

SARATOGA SPRINGS — "Art with Heart and Hope" is an annual pop-up exhibition celebrating the healing power of art for those living with life-altering medical conditions and caregivers. This year, the show will take place on Thursday, May 21 at the Universal Preservation Hall.

If you are an artist living with or caring for someone living with a rare disease, serious illness, or disability, here is an opportunity to share your art.  Deadline is March 30

Artist must live in the Capital Region, New York and be at least 18-years-old.
Artist must either live with or care for someone living with a physical illness, disease, or disability.
Artwork must be able (and ready) to be hung on a wall.

Submit a photo of your artwork, along with a title, dimensions, medium, and a description (approx. 100 words) of how you use art to move beyond your personal battle to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Beyond My Battle (BMB) is a Saratoga-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization helping people reduce the stress of serious illness, rare disease, and disability. Through emotional support and educational resources rooted in mindfulness, awareness, and compassion, BMB works to cultivate emotional awareness and provide an engaged, resilient approach to life with health-related uncertainty. 

Visit the website beyondmybattle.org. For questions, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The highly anticipated grand opening of Universal Preservation Hall is set for Saturday, Feb. 29. 

Following a multi-million-dollar renovation to transform the 19th century hall into a flourishing 700-plus seat performance space, UPH also looks to fill a half-century-long need in Saratoga Springs.  The city’s downtown district has lacked a year-round, mid-sized venue since the 5,000-seat Convention Hall on Broadway was destroyed by fire in 1966.

UPH was built in 1871 and served as a Methodist church and a gathering place. Teddy Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass and William Howard Taft to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg have each taken a turn atop the main stage during the building’s 146-year history.

A century after its construction, the Victorian Gothic structure on Washington Street began to fall into disrepair and the church sat empty for several years. In 2000, the city condemned the building and members of the community rallied to save the structure from demolition. In 2015, UPH got an added boost when it became an affiliate of Proctors.

Proctors CEO Phillip Morris says he envisions UPH as a welcoming place to gather, and as a cultural heart of the city. After the Saratoga Springs venue reopens with its 45-foot-tall ceilings, bell tower and walnut and ash staircases that feed into the main hall, it is anticipated it will stage 200 or so annual events.

Opening Night features an appearance by singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, the eldest daughter of country legend Johnny Cash. 

Tickets are available by phone at 518-346-6204, online at universalpreservationhall.org and in person at the Box Office at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady.

Tickets to the following shows are now on sale:

Rosanne Cash
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29. The Great Hall at UPH, $65 - $150.

Sounds of the Hall
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4. The Great Hall at UPH, $20.

An Evening with Chris Botti
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6. The Great Hall at UPH, $79.50 - $179.50.

The Marvelous Marquise Family Circus
2 p.m. Sunday, March 8. The Great Hall at UPH, $10.

Megan Hilty
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 13. The Great Hall at UPH, $32.50 - $109.50.

Howard Jones Acoustic Trio
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14. The Great Hall at UPH, $29.50 - $69.50.

Irish Hooley with the Screaming Orphans
7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15. The Great Hall at UPH, $25.

Rochmon Record Club: Paul Simon’s Graceland
7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. The Great Hall at UPH, $10.

One Night in Memphis
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20. The Great Hall at UPH, $30 - $65.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21. The Great Hall at UPH, $19.50 - $39.50.

Joey Alexander
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27. The Great Hall at UPH, $39.50 - $89.50.

PB&J Café: The Stinky Cheese Man
11 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. Saturday. April 4, The Great Hall at UPH, $15.

THE HIT MEN…Legendary Rock Supergroup & Musicians Hall of Fame
7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9. The Great Hall at UPH, $30 - $65.

Bakithi Kumalo & The Graceland Experience
7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23. The Great Hall at UPH, $19.50 - $39.50.

The Okee Dokee Brothers
6 p.m. Friday, April 24. The Great Hall at UPH, $15 for students with ID, $25 for adults.

The Steep Canyon Rangers
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29. The Great Hall at UPH, $20 - $79.50.

Top of the World – A Carpenters Tribute
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9. The Great Hall at UPH, $25.50 - $59.50.

Yogapalooza with Bari Koral Quartet
2 p.m. Saturday, May 16. Great Hall at UPH, $10 students with ID, $20 Adults

Bee Gees Gold
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 22. The Great Hall at UPH, $20 - $55.50.

Published in News
Friday, 15 March 2019 11:28

A 'Game Changer' for Saratoga Springs

Photos provided.

Initially fearing the challenge of saving Universal Preservation Hall, Teddy Foster has fallen in love with what she calls "our beautiful old gal."  When the $9.4 million renovation will be completed next year, 'the opportunities will be endless,' she says. 

Originally built in 1871 as a Methodist Episcopal Church, Universal Preservation Hall (UPH) became a hub for the creative economy of Saratoga Springs and remained so for over a century.  The Church was built as not only a place of worship but also as a venue for famous speakers of that era. Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt have spoken there, as has the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The congregation, Saratoga residents and summer visitors by the hundreds attended. Almost 100 years later (1976), the Methodists sold the building to the Universal Baptist Church. The building fell into dangerous disrepair and so the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and the City became involved in 1999 to move the congregation to a safe venue and condemn the building.  The situation looked hopeless. 

In 2000, a group of concerned citizens led by Jeff Pfeil and Tom Lewis formed a partnership with Reverend Minnie Burns of the Universal Baptist Church to restore the building as well as create a non-profit community cultural center. With a successful $3 million fund-raising campaign to salvage and stabilize the building for seasonal use, Universal Preservation Hall was "born" in 2003. 

Teddy Foster entered the picture in 2006. Shortly after moving back to Saratoga Springs after three years in Virginia, where she had been working for Genworth Financial, she joined the UPH board at the request of a friend. 

Reluctant at first because preserving and renovating the building seemed to be an overwhelming project, Foster remembers thinking, “Dear God, please don't ask me to be on your board! Please, no. I don't have anything to offer you.” 

She tells this story with humor that's infectious. That's one of many qualities that makes her a great fundraiser. Elected president of the UPH Board in 2009, Foster led the group until 2015 when she negotiated an affiliation with Proctors Collaborative in Schenectady. At that time, she stepped down as board president to be hired as the capital campaign director. Wayne Akey followed in her footsteps as board president and in January 2019, Kathleen Fyfe, program director of Leadership Saratoga, for the Saratoga County of Chamber of Commerce, has been named to lead UPH's board.

It was anything but love at first sight for Foster, but she soon fell head over heels for this huge, crumbling structure and became a passionate preservationist. Working as a volunteer for many years driving UPH's preservation and, now, as paid staff (Campaign Director) to raise $5.5 million toward a restoration that will cost in total $9.4 million. 

“Back then, UPH had no money to pay me,” she smiles. So, Foster started a health and wellness business she called "Foster Good Health" so that she had some income while she did the important work she wanted to do for UPH.

With a background in sales training from her 12-year career with Genworth Financial, Foster has used the sales skills she used to teach others to obtain donors for UPH's Capital Campaign.

The 'Living Room' of Saratoga 

“I’ve always viewed it as a blank canvas,” says Foster, describing the vast array of events for which the new UPH can be used.  Both the 700-seat theater in the round upstairs and the 200-seat community room can be rearranged to accommodate virtually any event. 

UPH will focus on presenting more than 200 nights a year of music, live theater, Broadway cabaret, and more. The Great Hall that's the main performance space will have excellent acoustics, lighting and sight lines.  There will be comfortable seating and a movie screen that can be lowered from the ceiling. 

“I think all we are doing is very cool and makes UPH unique,” Foster says, delighted by her vision of the Great Hall. "The opportunities provided by a newly renovated UPH are endless. We'll be the 'community living room' of Saratoga the year round." 

For the last several months, Foster and her operations manager, Mary Beth McGarrahan, have been working out of temporary offices at 3 Franklin Square. They'll stay there until early spring 2020, when the building is scheduled to open if all stays on schedule. Foster is confident that will happen, given the team of contractors, and acoustic/theatrical engineers that are working on the building. 

"Saratoga does not have a downtown cultural center that's year-round,” she says. “People come here, and they say, 'There's so much culture here.’ No, not all year round. UPH will fill that gap and ensure the long term economic good health of Saratoga Springs and the surrounding region." 

”UPH is in the heart of downtown and will be open almost every day of the year," she continues. "We look forward to lots of collaboration with other arts organizations, local and regional. It's going to be a place people can walk to and share wonderful cultural and community experiences," she promises. 

A 'Game Changer' 

The road for UPH has been long and challenging but all obstacles have been overcome.  Thirteen years after her first involvement with UPH, Foster is excited to be under construction on the massive restoration.  She's just $300,000 from achieving the project's $5.5 million fund-raising goal. 

“The bulk of the financial resources for the restoration have come from generous individuals and businesses who have given their support because they believe in our vision and understand how important UPH will be to a vital and vibrant Saratoga Springs and surrounding region in the future,” Foster notes. 

"We call UPH our 'beautiful old gal' and are dedicated to its future as a thriving venue for all to enjoy.  We know that Saratogians and visitors will benefit year-round and enjoy their experiences with us for years to come. Please join us!"



A student-driven communications agency, the SMARTACUS Creative Group is dedicated to the economic and cultural development of Upstate New York. 
A senior at Saratoga Springs High School, Ben Weatherwax is president of the chamber orchestra and a member of the varsity rowing team.  Ben enjoys fishing, skiing, and spending time outdoors.

Published in Lifestyle

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A scatter of workers amble through the vintage chambers of Universal Preservation Hall, exploring the possibilities. Design plans sprawl across tabletops beneath stained-glass windows and free-standing easels boast colorful images of what will be. Soon, the heavy lifting will begin.

When the $8.7 million restoration of UPH is complete, in late 2019, the 19th century building will provide Saratoga Springs with something it has sorely been missing: a mid-range capacity venue with state-of-the-art sound, open year-round and expected to stage more than 200 events.

“It’s going to be a huge performance venue,” says Teddy Foster, whose association with UPH goes back more than a decade - from board member to president to its current campaign director.

“We’re going to be a huge music room, that’s how it’s being designed. We anticipate doing some Broadway cabaret and some live theater; we will be a place of collaboration for SPAC, for Caffe Lena, for people from the community, you name it,” Foster says, standing in the middle of a vacant 20-foot by 24-foot space on the main floor where the staging area for the 700-seat theater-in-the round venue will be constructed.

Tiered seating will be installed at the far end of the main hall – where the current stage sits – and at the opposite end, the balcony will be extended and fitted with seats that descend to the main floor. It will be handicap accessible with an elevator that navigates between floors, and a glass atrium will serve as the new entry way, off Washington Street, in “a super cool alleyway inviting people to come in,” Foster explains.

Event booking will be handled by Proctors, with whom UPH struck an alliance in 2012, and whose event management has included staging everything from major Broadway shows and cutting-edge film festivals to snagging pop music acts on national tours. Proctors’ stated mission: To be a catalyst - through arts and community leadership - for excellence in education, sustainable economic development and rich civic engagement to enhance the quality of life in the greater Capital Region.

Approximately 100 local jobs will be employed during the construction phase, which begins in earnest sometime between May and July. After the $8.7 million project is completed – expected to be in late 2019 - and the venue re-opens for business, it is anticipated UPH will bring approximately 65,000 visitors to the Spa City each year. “We will fill the hotel rooms and the restaurants during the off-the shoulder season,” Foster says. UPH also plans to hire six full-time employees and a number more on a part-time basis.

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the venue will be awarded $750,000 to help redevelop the hall into a performing arts center. UPH represents Saratoga Springs’ sole recipient of the Restore New York Communities Initiative – which awards funding for projects that will reinvigorate downtowns and generate new economic opportunity in communities.  

The Washington Street venue, which is a non-profit community performing arts center, is also entering into an energized public fundraising phase. The goal is to raise $5.5 million. “We’ve raised most of it,” Foster says. There is just under $1 million to go to reach that goal.

“I’m a huge music lover and I would love to see music of all kinds in that room,” says Foster. “You know this was built as a place where people could come together for all different kinds of things. That’s how we’ve kept it alive all these years. And that’s really what I want to have here: a place that all Saratogians can experience.“  

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Architectural renderings were released this week depicting the proposed exterior design of Universal Preservation Hall. Renovation work is expected to get underway at the historic Washington Street building in October, with a grand re-opening anticipated during the first quarter of 2019. 

Constructed in 1871, the Victorian Gothic structure has served as a staging ground for everyone from Teddy Roosevelt and Frederick Douglass to Bruce Springsteen E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg.

A century after its construction, the building began to fall into disrepair and in 2000, the city condemned the building. Members of the community rallied to save the structure from demolition. Today, the nonprofit group UPH owns the building and in 2015 got an added boost when it became an affiliate of Proctors. The Schenectady based organization will lend their expertise in securing programming and coordinating ticket sales and marketing,

When it reopens, UPH will provide an acoustically perfect theater-in-the-round experience with a capacity of 700-plus people, said UPH Campaign Director Teddy Foster. The building will feature new heating and air conditioning systems, a kitchen, an elevator and new light and sound fixtures with acoustic treatments.

New entry doors will be set on the building’s Broadway facing-side to provide theater-goers close proximity to a multi-level public parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue and the main room’s flexibility will allow for the relocation of seats as events dictate. 

Once completed, it is anticipated UPH will stage approximately 200 events annually, and fill the city’s void of a year-round, mid-sized venue that has been absent since Saratoga’s 5,000-seat Convention Hall went up in a fireball in 1966.

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