Restoration of Saratoga's UPH begins in June; theater to open fall 2018

Spa City landmark to be transformed into 700-seat venue

By Wendy Liberatore, Published 9:51 pm, Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saratoga Springs

In 2015, Teddy Foster was about to give up on the Universal Preservation Hall. She needed millions to renovate the crumbling 1871 Methodist church, but fundraising efforts, which were successful early on, had stalled.

Discouraged, she called Proctors CEO Philip Morris for advice. What she got was a partner and a second chance for UPH.

"Bringing in Proctors was fabulous," said Foster, UPH's campaign director. "Philip brought in the expertise that I didn't have. We are a small, two-person outfit. Once we became affiliated with Proctors, people became more interested again."

Morris, who also joined forces with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, said that inviting UPH into the fold was the right thing to do.

"It's a beautiful space," Morris said, pointing out the pastel-colored windows. "It's a worthy enterprise. We had to make it happen."

Now with nearly $5.5 million raised for renovations, the former citadel for high-tone orators like President Theodore Roosevelt and abolitionist Frederick Douglass is about to be transformed into what Morris describes as Saratoga Springs' living room. Restoration of the brick, granite and stained-glass edifice that towers over the city will begin in June. By the fall of 2018, UPH will be a 700-seat venue with a year-round lineup of music, theater, dance, film, lectures and fashion shows — or as Foster put it, "everything."

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