Building History

Universal Preservation Hall is the performing arts education and entertainment venue, located in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY.  The building was constructed in 1871 and is one of the country’s earliest and finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture. Originally constructed for the Methodist church to host their annual regional meeting, the building has hosted such luminaries as William Jennings BryanHenry Ward BeecherFrederick Douglass, Senator Edgar T. Brackett and President William Howard Taft, amongst others.

In 1976 the Methodists sold the building to the Universal Baptist Church, who inhabited it until the building’s deteriorating state made it unsafe. By 2000, it was condemned and in danger of collapse. Thanks to a group of dedicated and visionary Saratogians who wouldn’t let the space be turned into a parking lot—we have been able to restore the church building into a true community space, adding to downtown’s vitality and continuation of a culture of the arts that Saratoga is coming to be known by. 

Past use of the building was limited as there was no adequate heat in the upstairs space and no air conditioning in any of the performance spaces, no elevator, and no disabled access to the building.  In 2013, we reached out to Proctors in Schenectady to assist us in the final phase of the project of completing the building. Together, we evaluated restoration strategy and conducted feasibility studies to ensure project success. In July 2015, we announced a formal affiliation, in which Proctors will collaborate with UPH to provide technical support, ticketing systems, fundraising, marketing, operations and programming capacity, towards bringing significant artistic presentations to our community. This regional collaboration between UPH and Proctors is aimed at growing year-round cultural tourism in downtown Saratoga Springs.

UPH maintains its Saratoga-based Board of Directors and non-profit status, while gaining resources to make our programming truly world-class.  The final phase of construction will complete the restoration of UPH, including completion of interior and exterior structural work, glass-enclosed atrium, decorative finishes, heating and cooling systems, theatrical lighting, seating and an elevator to make our multiple performance spaces accessible to everyone.  Our grand opening is projected for Spring of 2020.

Our building’s history is important to us as it steers our goals and mission. Learn more about our mission.