Utica’s historic Uptown Theatre for Creative Arts (UTCA) was approved last week for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a lengthy process, requiring submission, review, and approval at the state level first, before the state makes recommendations to the National Register. The New York State approval alone took more than a year.
Inclusion on the National Register makes commercial properties or historic homes eligible for such funding as state and national grants, state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, preservation programs, and civic charities that promote local history, culture and arts.
The theatre was opened on December 29, 1927, on the site of a former boxing arena. It initially held seating for fifteen hundred people, and featured an elaborate pipe organ that rose on a platform in the orchestra pit.
For more than four decades, the Uptown was a popular destination for movie goers. Once multi-screen movie complexes opened in the 1970’s, the Uptown became known for featuring discounted, second run movies. The theatre hosted concerts throughout the years, Melissa Etheridge being among the most notable performers.
Several different management strategies and business overviews were attempted throughout the past twenty-five years, before the Uptown shut its doors in September of 2013. The building has also had a bank, a bakery, and both antique and jeweler stores operate on the premises throughout its nearly one hundred year history.
In 2017, Devin and Briana Mahoney, area natives, were inspired to revive the theatre, with a focus that includes performance art, including acting and comedy workshops, as well as writing and improv sessions.
Extensive renovations have already taken place, and as performance venues reemerge from COVID restrictions, UTCA seeks to add live music and comedy to their schedule.
Patrons of the arts can support UTCA by becoming a member at their website here.