Hudson Opera House
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Coordinates: Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House is located in Hudson, New York. The building offers “a year-round schedule of arts and cultural programming in the 1855 former Hudson City Hall which contains New York State's oldest surviving theatre”.
In 1855, the building was constructed for its original purpose, the town’s first city hall. As the town hall it was home to a number of things including the Franklin Library, and the First National Bank of Hudson. It also was used as a lecture hall and as an art gallery. Around 1880 many American town halls were changing their names to “Opera House” to follow the fashion of the Paris Opera house that had been recently constructed. It is due to this trend that the Hudson Opera House got its name. Despite changing its name to Hudson Opera House, the town still used it as their town hall and post office. It was large enough to continue doing it’s federal duties while holding different events such as “traveling lecture presentations and musical and theatrical events to local functions like dances, cotillions, poultry shows and graduations”  (Hudson Opera House). Also the upstairs of the opera house was a “common ground where white and black citizens could meet”  (Rieser, 2005).
In 1962, after the town hall had been relocated up the street, the Hudson Opera House became a local Moose Lodge but was then sold to an out of town developer. Afterwards the building was left abandoned where it began to decay. A group of concerned citizens decided to gather together and try to renovate the historical building and in 1992 they formed the “Hudson Opera House, Inc.”, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the Hudson Opera House back to full community use. In 1996 the Hudson Opera House, Inc. began an “Open the Door campaign” which has “raised the money to open the first restored room in the building, the West Room, in December 1997”  (Hudson Opera House). Since that time the group has raised enough money to restore five other rooms on the first floor that now are host to numerous different cultural events.
In December 1997, the Hudson Opera House, Inc. completed restoration of the first room, the West Room. It has new floors, a new ceiling, and has been re-painted. It now is “in frequent use for concerts, lectures and community gatherings”  (Hudson Opera House).
In March 2001, the second room, The Center Hall Gallery, was opened to the public. Here the group removed and rebuilt stairs, replaced non-working toilets, and it is now used for receptions, exhibitions and workshops.
In September 2001 the Workshop Room was opened up. In 2002 the Lower Façade and the East Room Steps were restored. The Lower Façade Restoration was set up as it had originally looked when first constructed, while the East Room Steps were removed and replaced.
In 2003 the East Room Offices and in 2004 the Center Door Restoration were completed. In 2008 the Hudson Opera House, Inc. installed a new roof and restored the existing 1855 monumental cornice on all four facades.
In 2016, restoration began on the historic upstairs performance hall, the largest and most ambitious restoration project to date. The $8.5 million project was funded through a $1.3 million Capital Region Economic Development Council Capital Grant, a $1 million Restore NY Grant; a matching EPF grant leveraging $800,000 in grants from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; nearly $100,000 from the New York State Council for the Arts; and $3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Loan Program. The remaining funding was supported through investments from members of the Hudson Opera House Board of Directors and private sponsors.
Interior renovations included restoring the theater to a professional-grade working venue suitable for a diverse range of programming and rentals. Work included the rehabilitation of the stage, performance hall and mezzanine, which now features a new lighting and sound booth. Support spaces, including dressing rooms, a Reception Room and accessible restrooms, were also restored. Part of the project included preservation of the facility’s historic character, including the proscenium arch and raked wooden floor stage, which were late 19th century additions. The historic fabric was also retained, with new elements sensitively incorporated to retain the overall historic character of the spaces.
Additionally, the opera house was modernized to ensure accessibility, safety and security for all staff, performers and patrons. A new elevator tower in the southeast corner of the building makes the performance hall fully accessible to all individuals for the first time in the building’s more than 160-year history. The facility underwent lead and asbestos abatement services, and new electrical, fire protection and HVAC systems were installed. Exterior renovations included the restoration of the facility’s masonry, windows and doors. A new roof was installed and the building’s cornice was restored.
The Hudson Opera House was renamed 'Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House' and officially reopened on April 22, 2017.
From live performances of theater and music to readings and lectures, workshops, and youth activities; Hudson Hall is a place for everyone to find an event or activity to participate in. During the winter Hudson Hall produces the town of Hudson’s biggest tourism event, Winter Walk. During this event people will travel to Hudson to walk through the business section (where Hudson Hall is located) and observe music and dance performances while visiting the many new local shops that have developed since its restoration. During the year people can come to participate in workshops that include how to draw, paint, and dance. From Shakespearean productions done for kids to hip hop dancing, Hudson Hall has devoted many resources to creating a family friendly environment. There are also many readings and lectures open to the general public. Hudson Hall is open year round to provide a constant source of art and education to the Hudson Valley.