Mark Thaler has previously worked on projects at Ellis Island, Valley Forge, and West Point Saratoga Springs, N.Y. - Universal Preservation Hall (UPH) announced today the signing of Mark Thaler, a nationally recognized architect and historic preservation expert, to assist UPH in its efforts to obtain and utilize funds allotted in a New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYOPRHP ) grant originally approved in 2009. "We are so pleased that someone of Mr. Thaler's experience and stature has agreed to assist us with the continued renovation of this majestic building," noted UPH President Teddy Foster. "It is a significant step in maintaining our positive momentum from 2012." In October, UPH Officials announced discussions had begun with Proctor's Theater of Schenectady about a potential partnership between the two organizations to explore new funding sources and offer a wider range of cultural and non-cultural activities. Consultants have been hired and the resulting report of the first of two feasibility studies was released in January. The study's conclusions were encouraging and noted that UPH's uniqueness offered the opportunity to fill an important niche in Capital Region entertainment venues, and that a partnership with Proctor's made UPH's anticipated role that much more promising. The second study, which will examine fundraising and other financial aspects of the project, is expected to be released next month. Mr. Thaler, who has also worked on projects at a number of the nation's most prestigious universities, was equally enthused about his involvement with the project. "I am honored to be working with UPH to continue the great work which they have already accomplished. I remember what the building was like before they took control and saved this important landmark. I look forward to seeing Universal Preservation Hall become a thriving center for the performing arts. It's an important part of Saratoga's storied history and its bright future", Thaler said. UPH has received an initial portion of the $224,000 grant, and due to increasing New York State documentation requirements, UPH officials chose to partner with Mr. Thaler to facilitate the procurement of the remaining funds. His first steps will be a complete review of the project's documentation, which will be followed by meetings with NYOPRHP officials. UPH officials plan on using the funds to complete work underway in the front of the building. The new entranceway has been completed, and plans are to continue work on the façade of the building, including repair of brick and stone masonry, windows, front steps, lighting, and roofing. "We are proud to do our part to make Washington Street even more beautiful," noted Foster. "The Hall's work, coupled with the planned expansion of the Van Dam Hotel, will make that area of downtown even livelier." UPH is an IRS approved 501(c)3 charitable organization, and donations have increased since October's announcement of a planned partnership with Proctor's. Those wishing to donate may mail funds to the Hall, or may do so electronically through the Hall's web site at http://www.universalpreservationhall.org/ and clicking on "Support". The building, built in 1871 as a Methodist Church, has hosted such luminaries as William Jennings Bryan and President William Howard Taft. It also currently serves as the home of the Universal Baptist Church, which purchased the building in 1976. Universal Preservation Hall is located at 25 Washington Street in beautiful and historic downtown Saratoga Springs. For further information, please contact UPH Manager Mary Beth McGarrahan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 584-2627.