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Schenectady Light Opera to buy former (RC Diocese of Albany) church
Business Review ^ | August 28, 2009

Posted on 08/28/2009 6:27:51 AM PDT by NYer

p>The Schenectady Light Opera Company is buying a former Catholic church downtown and will raise money to convert the property into a 300-seat theater and performing arts center.

The Light Opera Company, an 83-year-old community theater group, signed a contract with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany to buy the former St. John the Baptist Church on Franklin Street.

St. John the Baptist, said to be the oldest church in Schenectady, closed June 24, one of 33 worship sites that will be closed or merged in the diocese over the next three years.

The first mass was held at St. John the Baptist in 1839.

The diocese won’t disclose the sale price until the deal closes this fall, said Ken Goldfarb, spokesman.

The Light Opera Company wants to move from its current home at 826 State St.–itself a former church–to be in the heart of the city’s growing arts and entertainment district downtown. The current 260-seat theater has drawbacks: there’s no air conditioning and it’s not handicapped accessible. There also isn’t enough room for set building and costume storage (those are in separate facilities).

The theater group, one of the oldest of its kind in the U.S., typically stages four to six musical theater shows from September to May. Its programs would expand in the new facility.

The group is raising money to pay for the new home. The 5-year-long capital campaign is divided into three stages, with each phase costing $1.2 million to $1.3 million.

Nearly half the money for the first phase has been committed or would be realized from the sale of 826 State St.

In light of the recession, the fund-raising campaign has been structured so that the Light Opera Company can move into and renovate the former church as a performing arts space even if the second and third phases are delayed. The total cost of all three phases is $3.6 million to $3.9 million.

“This allows us to hit the ground running and hopefully get the new theater open in 2010,” said Robert Harrison, vice president of fund-raising and development for the Light Opera Company. “The response from potential donors has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Besides a 300-seat theater in the former church, the first phase includes converting the former church school into a professional training and education facility and turning the parish residence into offices, rehearsal rooms and space for audience services.

If funded, the second and third phases would include a new lobby connecting the church and rectory; and a new stage house and space for set construction.

The theater group is also considering selling a portion of the former church property to the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, which would use the land for additional parking at the Center City complex. Center City is undergoing a $20 million renovation that includes a 50,000-square-foot addition.

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: albany; catholic; opera; schenectady

1 posted on 08/28/2009 6:27:52 AM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer

Sanctuary of St. John the Baptist Church

Other images here.

Another victim of the Diocese of Albany's "going out of business" sale.

2 posted on 08/28/2009 6:30:23 AM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

It looks at those it had been converted into a theatre some years ago. /s

3 posted on 08/28/2009 7:12:04 AM PDT by Oratam
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To: NYer
I went to many a mass at St. John's while growing up. Noon mass was a glorious celebration. I have nothing but fond memories, and I am truly sorry the Diocese of Albany is abandoning it's history.
4 posted on 08/28/2009 7:58:45 AM PDT by delacoert (Good health to your belly button.)
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To: Oratam

I was thinking that looks like a relief of Jabba the Hutt, there behind the altar.

5 posted on 08/28/2009 10:25:30 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("Much of political rhetoric serves as a substitute for reasoning." ~Thomas Sowell)
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