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Cohoes receives nearly $2 million to preserve, update Cohoes Music Hall

Cohoes Music Hall
Lucas Willard
Cohoes Music Hall

The city of Cohoes has been awarded funding for a major upgrade to the Cohoes Music Hall and visitors center.

$1.88 million in funding through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation grants will go to restore and preserve the historic hall and transform it into an energy efficient, carbon neutral building.

Democratic Mayor Bill Keeler says the money will boost the Restore Historic Cohoes Initiative that began three years ago, centered around the preservation and restoration of City Hall, the Public Library and Cohoes Music Hall.

"And about the same time, we began discussing what we dubbed our cleaner, greener Cohoes initiative, which described our efforts to use 21st century technology to create energy efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions," Keeler said. "So we are very excited to learn to Cohoes will receive about 1.9 million in New York state grants to use towards the restoration of our musical building. The state funding will help us honor and preserve the architecture the beautiful 19th century Cohoes Music Hall building that was left was by our forebears while at the same time allow us to transform into an energy efficient, carbon neutral building that will be powered by European floating solar project and enjoyed by future generations for centuries to come."

City Director of Operations Theresa Bourgeois says the efforts are happening in conjunction with the Albany County city’s Municipal Floating Solar installation on its water reservoir.

"The Cohoes Music Hall was first opened in 1874," said Bourgeois. "And then in 1906, it was closed again for a long time, but it reopened 100 years later in 1974, after the community came together to restore it. So 2024 marked the 150th anniversary of its initial opening and 50th anniversary of its rebirth. So we have been focused on bringing it back to life again, when it's an active theater, but it needs a lot of work. We call it a gem in need of a polish. So now with these two amazing grants, the NYSERDA grant and the Parks Preservation grant, we're on track to ensure that it continues as a vital community and regional gathering space, another 50, 100, maybe 150 more years, which is very, very exciting. And it's not just restoring its historic features, but it's doing it in a way that makes it more energy efficient and clean energy. So it's contributing not only to the past but to its future."

State Assemblymember John McDonald, a Democrat from the 108th district, says he is excited about the Music Hall upgrade.

"As a former mayor I know the building very well," McDonald said. "It is a precious resource, yet has also been the source of significant financial investment over the years. The energy related funding is going to help make the building much more efficient, also addressed many capital expenses that need to be had. And actually is really not only in the best interest of historic preservation, in the best interest of continuing to allow music quality to be a very strong contributor to the arts here in the Capital Region, but also saves the taxpayers on the city of halls, significant funding, so a true win win win. We thank the governor and the team at NYSERDA for their support. And I can't wait for the improvements to come to bear."

The grants were awarded to Cohoes as part of the 2022 Regional Economic Development Council Annual Consolidated Funding Application Process.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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