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Two Upstate Opera Houses Supported by Preservation League Grants
Historic Preservation Blog from -
Contributed By: Preservation League of NYS

ALBANY, NY, 10/03/22 — Since including Opera Houses on its statewide Seven to Save list of endangered historic sites in 2018, the Preservation League of NYS has proactively worked to study and assist opera houses across New York State. That work has been supported in large part thanks to the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. After funding a statewide opera house survey in 2019, the Adams Foundation proposed a re-grant partnership in 2022 to fund the rehabilitation, restoration, and repair of historic arts and cultural venues, open to organizations that previously received League grants.

The League is thrilled to announce the two grant recipients, each receiving $10,000 from the Adams grant program: Earlville Opera House, located in Central New York; and Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, located in Cambridge, NY, between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Upper Hudson River.

Earlville Opera House (EOH) has additionally been named the 2022 Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund grant recipient, receiving an additional $10,000 to fully fund their Victorian-era storefront restoration and window repair project.

"As a graduate of Hamilton College, I am always pleased that the award in honor of my friend Don Gratz helps preserve Central New York cultural and educational institutions," said Thomas J. Schwarz, whose generous contributions underwrite the League’s Gratz Fund.

"Rental income from the newly renovated shops will help support our dual mission to enrich Central New York through the arts while preserving our historic building for future generational use,” said EOH Executive Director Michelle Connelly. “We take our role as stewards of this National Landmark to heart and strive to make Earlville Opera House a destination reflective of the cultural resources of our region. As an anchor in our community, we aim to make the arts accessible to all."

EOH is one of the state’s important historic opera house rehabilitation success stories. This 1892 three-story brick multi-use building boasts a proscenium stage, ornate stamped metal ceilings, and decorative stenciling. Saved from demolition in the 1970s, today it offers an art gallery and restored performance space that attract participants from far beyond its small community in rural Chenango County, NY. The League has been proud to support their preservation journey over the years with grants through the New York State Council on the Arts-funded Technical Assistance Grant (2014) and Preserve New York (2021) grant programs.

"Historic opera houses featuring varied arts programs are a mainstay of a stable downtown and can stimulate downtown growth, so I am delighted that we can advance the restoration of the Earlville Opera House," said Roberta Brandes Gratz, whose late husband inspired the creation of the Gratz Fund.

Built in 1878, Hubbard Hall has developed, produced, and presented theater, music, opera, dance, visual arts, and special events for over 140 years. Today, Hubbard Hall is a thriving arts center dedicated to cultivating, sustaining, and promoting the cultural life of their rural community in Washington County, NY, and throughout the greater Capital Region. “We gather people from all walks of life to create, learn, and grow together, while developing, producing, and presenting world-class art and artists,” said Hubbard Hall Executive & Artistic Director David Snider. “If we cannot replace our HVAC system, we cannot continue to serve our community safely."

The new HVAC system for Hubbard Hall is a crucial step in that organization’s preservation efforts. This project builds upon a comprehensive Historic Structure Report funded by the League through a Preserve New York grant in 2016.

“Opera houses are key features of communities across our state, but many are vacant or underutilized – and too many have already been lost,” said Katie Eggers Comeau, Vice President for Policy and Preservation at the Preservation League. “Both Earlville Opera House and Hubbard Hall provide great examples of how communities can embrace their historic opera houses and use them as part of larger community revitalization efforts. We are thrilled to help fund their important work thanks to support from the Adams Foundation and the Gratz Fund.”

For more about the Preservation League’s efforts to support New York State’s opera houses, please visit

About the Preservation League of New York State
Since its founding in 1974, the Preservation League has built a reputation for action and effectiveness. Our goal has been to preserve our historic buildings, districts, and landscapes and to build a better New York, one community at a time. The Preservation League of New York State invests in people and projects that champion the essential role of preservation in community revitalization, sustainable economic growth and the protection of our historic buildings and landscapes. We lead advocacy, economic development, and education programs across the state.
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The Arthur F. & Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, created in 1985, honors its founders, Mr. & Mrs. Adams, by supporting the arts, culture, humanities, and education. This grant program is an extension of a partnership between the League and the Adams Foundation to document historic opera houses in New York State that began in 2019.

The Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund was established in 2010 and is funded through a permanently endowed charitable contribution from Thomas J. Schwarz. The primary goals of the Gratz Fund are to fund professional services for important preservation projects that: illustrate the benefits of the New York State Historic Tax Credit Program; leverage other public and private investments; and enable the League to react quickly to preservation opportunities with financial resources.


Posted: October 18, 2022
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