Ulster Performing Arts Center

601 Broadway,
Kingston, NY 12401

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Related Websites

Ulster Performing Arts Center (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Walter Reade Theatres

Architects: Douglas Pairman Hall, John J. McNamara

Functions: Performing Arts, Special Events

Styles: Greek Revival

Previous Names: Broadway Theatre, Community Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 845.331.5784
Manager: 845.331.1613

Nearby Theaters

Ulster Performing Arts Center

The Broadway Theatre opened in 1927. It was extensively remodeled in 1953 to the plans of architect John J. McNamara, when a portico was added to the facade. Original ornamentation was removed from the lobby and auditorium to give a modern look to the building.

The facility is currently run as a multi-purpose venue. The theater is currently operated by a local organization. Movies were shown following the theater’s renovation, but it is not known if the original screen still exists.

Contributed by Jim Mcgarry

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

EMarkisch on June 20, 2005 at 12:11 pm

Between 1953 and 1977, the UPAC / Broadway Theater was known as the Community Theater. During this period, it was owned and operated by Walter Reade Organization.

stevennewyork on December 18, 2007 at 9:44 am

From their website at www.upac.org

The History of the Broadway Theater

The Broadway Theater first opened in 1927 as a movie palace/vaudeville house designed by the famed New York City architect, Douglas P. Hall. Purchased in 1947 by the Walter Reade Organization, the Broadway soon became a first run movie house. A 1953 ìfaceliftî called for removal of the grand chandelier, replacement of the 1927 marquee and blade sign with an imposing neoclassical portico, and a new name — the Community Theater. But by 1977, the flight of business and entertainment from the downtown to suburban malls caused Walter Reade to close the theater, and it was slated for demolition. The theater was saved from demolition by three inspired and dedicated co-partners: Norm Rafalowsky, Helen Newcombe and C. Lincoln Christensen, who also served as the first President of UPAC’s board. Through the efforts of these three and a group of concerned citizens the Broadway was rescued, purchased, and reopened as the Ulster Performing Arts Center. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 as one of the last great show palaces in New York State . Sixteen years later, revitalization was mounted to produce a $ 1.7 million interior renovation to ready the theater for its 75th Anniversary in 2002. In 2006 Poughkeepsie’s Bardavon Opera House took over the management of UPAC and in 2007 UPAC officially merged with the Bardavon. Today, the Ulster Performing Arts Center’s historic Broadway Theater has emerged once again as a premier performing arts venue of the Hudson Valley , open year-round to present a diverse season of superb productions, including national and international headliners in music, dance, theater and more. With a 1500-seat capacity, it remains the largest proscenium theater between Manhattan and Albany.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 21, 2011 at 2:19 am

Photos showing the Community Theatre as it was remodeled in 1953 can be seen on this page of Boxoffice, October 22, 1955.

valbright on April 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

The Commmunity Theater initially closed in 1977 following a showing of the movie “Earthquake” because the “Sensearound” speaker system used for that movie caused cracks in the balcony. The story was reported by the Kingston Daily Freeman.

patriquem1 on April 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I was a projectionist at the Community Theatre from 1970 until 1978. “Earthquake” was one of the films that I played, when it played there in 1974; there were special speakers and amplifiers brought in for that run. The theatre did not close as a result of that engagement, but the “Sennsurround” may have weakened the balcony, which was permanently closed soon afterward. A number of live shows played that theatre during my time there, and I worked as a stagehand for several of them. Most notably, a bill starring the J. Geils Band played two shows one evening around 1972 or so, with a combined attendance of about 700 (in a house that seated 1600). The opening act was a then-unknown piano player from Long Island…named Billy Joel. The theatre’s air conditioning system failed sometime in the mid-‘70’s, and Walter Reade Theatres deemed it too expensive to repair. The last film that I projected there was “FM”, in the spring of 1978. I subsequently moved out of the area, and it is my understanding that the theatre was closed by the WRO at some point in 1978.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Linkrot repair: The photos of the remodeled Community Theatre in the October 22, 1955, issue of Boxoffice are now at this link.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 31, 2017 at 5:13 pm

The Boxoffice article I linked to twice before has been moved again, and I’m having trouble finding it. In the meantime, here’s a three page article from Motion Picture Herald of March 5, 1955, which has not only photos of the remodeling by John J. McNamara, but a couple of “before” photos showing Douglas Pairman Hall’s original design.

jimpanza on September 7, 2019 at 8:17 am

I am in my 30’s and I have only been in UPAC a few times when I was very young. I have to say I do not remember much about the inside of the theater. This would have been in the 90’s that I was in there. I most likely would have been at least 4 or 5 years old. My sister was part of New York Conservatory for the Arts (NYCA) and they were using UPAC back than for there theater shows. I do remember getting to go backstage there as a kid to see my sister before and after the shows. I remember that there was a door that led from backstage from the auditorium and one from the parking lot in the back of the theater. Those are the only memories that I have of this theater.

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