A leader in the civic and cultural life of the City of Hudson and the Hudson Valley
In 1992, concerned citizens came together to save the Hudson Opera House, New York State’s oldest surviving theater. Built in 1855, the building was designed by local architect Peter Avery. For more than a century, it housed various civic offices, including the Post Office and Police Station, and was home to the Franklin Library and the First National Bank of Hudson.
Its showpiece was and still is a magnificent auditorium on the second floor, which was used for everything from theatrical presentations to cotillions and poultry shows. Frederic Church and Sanford Gifford showed their paintings here, Bret Harte read his poems, and Henry Ward Beecher gave a rousing abolitionist lecture. Susan B. Anthony visited at least twice, the first time lecturing about abolishing slavery, and the second time to rally support for women’s suffrage. In 1914, Teddy Roosevelt regaled a crowd with his adventures in Africa.
Shortly after City Hall moved further up Warren Street in 1962, the building was sold to an out-of-town developer. For nearly thirty years it sat vacant, decaying and accumulating debris. During this time, lower Warren Street was virtually abandoned and considered by many to be a lost cause. Hudson Opera House then invested nearly $3 million to stabilize, upgrade and restore the exterior, basement and main floor of the building.
In 2016, Hudson Opera House embarked upon the largest and most significant phase of its preservation efforts, the centerpiece of which was the restoration of its magnificent upstairs performance hall. The $8.5 million project was funded through two grants from Empire State Development –a $1.3 million Capital Region Economic Development Council Capital Grant, and a $1 million Restore NY Grant; an $800,000 matching EPF grant leveraging 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 long-term financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Loan Program in Partnership with Kinderhook Bank and with bridge financing made available through Key Bank. The remaining funding was supported through investments from members of the Hudson Opera House Board of Directors, numerous foundations and private sponsors.
In April, 2017, Hudson Opera House celebrated the grand reopening of the building with a name change. In the spirit of inclusiveness, the organization and building is now known as Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House.
As a result of these essential efforts, Hudson Hall now serves the community with a year-round program of cultural and educational events and has been that continues to be a catalyst for the regeneration of downtown Hudson and the surrounding region.