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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Universal Preservation Hall: An investment in the future

I had an occasion on Saturday to visit to the Universal Preservation Hall, the church-turned-venue on Washington Street that is undergoing what, when done, will be a $4 million rehab. It has come an amazing way since it was saved from the wrecking ball by local people with a vision, perseverance, volunteerism and the ability to roll up their sleeves, literally and figuratively -- participating in the labor and raising the money.
Good news for the UPH last week came in the form of a $225,000 matching state grant. That's a great boost toward the construction of what they're calling a "community plaza" -- a welcoming entrance to the towering structure. It will creates a reason to walk down Washington Street from Broadway, further expanding the scope and appeal of downtown.
How does one decide when a project is throwing good money after bad, when it's time to say it's not worth it? No simple answer to that. After an evening in the second floor hall, one comes away with a renewed respect for those working so hard to not just preserve an old structure, but to give it new life.
This rehab, I hope, will be remembered as work that began at the turn of a century to create a downtown gem for centuries to come.


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