Behind-the-Scenes of a Legend
New Visitors Center Open
Schenectady, N.Y. -
Proctors invites area residents and visitors to enjoy a free walking tour of Proctors arts and entertainment complex in Downtown Schenectady. It all takes place on Sunday, April 29. Participants are invited to brown-bag the event or enjoy a cozy lunch at the Theatre's refurbished Apostrophe Café.
At 10 AM on Sunday, April 29, the free, open-to-the-public informational event will start in front of the Mainstage doors in the Golub Family Arcade and proceed to high points within the complex: backstage, dressing rooms, the GE Theatre at Proctors. The tour of the historic State Street site will include the recently opened Schenectady Heritage Visitors Center.
The April 29 tour includes:
About the New Schenectady Heritage Area Visitors Center at Proctors
- an informal, narrated history of Frederick Freeman Proctor and his impact on arts and entertainment in the extended Capital Region;
- an overview of the architectural high points of the Proctors complex;
- the new stage-house -- now three times larger than the original stage;
- an insider's look at backstage;
- the star dressing rooms;
- Proctors museum and
- Robb Alley and the Underground at Proctors
Proctors is now the site of a new Schenectady Heritage Area Visitors Center. Local officials consider Proctors as the downtown area's biggest visitor attractions; Proctors hosted 1,728 events last year attracting more than 600,000 people to downtown Schenectady.
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, "The City is pleased to cooperate fully with this effort to create a Visitors Center that will showcase Schenectady and offer residents and guests information about our heritage and our future as a technology leader."
"Placing the Visitors Center at Proctors makes perfect sense. Working together we've created a new and exciting environment in Schenectady County with Proctors as our centerpiece. This new Center will show all that we have to offer including thriving businesses, restaurants, and theaters that our residents and visitors can enjoy," said Judy Dagostino, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature.
ADIRONDACK Studios, an Argyle, NY firm that has been the fabricator of sets for Disney's The Lion King
as well as sets for the Boston, Los Angeles and New York Opera companies was commissioned along with Stracher Roth Gilmore Architects of Schenectady to design the new facility that will be located across from the Proctor's box office. The 1,200 square foot exhibit area will be easily accessible from the State Street entrance of Proctors entertainment complex.
The exhibit features five areas that highlight the legacy of Schenectady area and alert visitors to the role that Schenectady plays in green energy and other emerging technologies. The five exhibit areas include History, Landmarks, Industry, Culture and Visionaries.
The Visitors Center exhibits employ state of the art digital print and TV technologies. The area will include enhanced lighting to highlight the area - and a new ceiling over and adjacent to the exhibits will create an intimate space to view and participate in the exhibits. The exhibit space will also include display racks to showcase marketing materials on various historic points and places of interest within Schenectady County and the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway.
A unique feature of the Visitors Center is that it is designed to be a revolving exhibit, enabling Proctors to introduce new subject matter throughout the year. The exhibit panels are designed to be easily and cost effectively updated.
Representatives from numerous organizations came together to develop the content of the exhibit including the Schenectady County Historical Society, Schenectady Museum, Mabee Farm, local historians, Proctors History Committee, Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway, Revolutionary Byway and the City of Schenectady.
The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway is a national and state designated byway from Waterford to Schenectady. It connects to the Revolutionary Byway that runs to Port Ontario.
Ray Gillen, Metroplex Chair and Commissioner of Economic Development for Schenectady County said, "By working together we were able to utilize this grant funding to take a high visibility space within the Proctors complex that was not being utilized and turn it into a resource that will help theater goers and other visitors to downtown learn about everything that Schenectady County has to offer."
Responding to Visitor Requests
"With more and more visitors coming to downtown Schenectady, it seems only natural to welcome those who have expressed an interest in wanting to know more about this historic place," says Marilyn Sassi, a longstanding member of Proctors History Committee and Volunteer Coordinator of the informal but informative walkabouts.
A Tour to Remember
Proctors is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009 the League of Historic American Theatre commended Proctors as a theatre of exemplary vision and dedication to its community.
Originally built as a vaudeville house, Proctors has seen its stage graced by such legendary performers as comedians Red Skelton, George Burns and Gracie Allen, magicians Harry Blackstone Sr. & Jr., and bandleaders Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller.
In recent years, Proctors has hosted entertainers including Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Tim Conway, Robert Goulet, Carol Burnet, Norah Jones, Brittney Spears, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Alice Cooper and Shirley MacLaine. Singer Mariah Carey chose Proctors as the site for her first concert special in 1993, and the theatre is featured prominently in the video for her big hit "Hero"
Tours of the restored 1926 Vaudeville palace and the two new theaters are available and led by trained volunteers throughout the year as needed or upon request for private tours. Private tours for groups of fifteen or more can be arranged by calling Proctors Business Office at (518) 382-3884.
Informed, Experienced Guides
facilitates all tours of the Proctors arts and entertainment complex; she schedules and conducts these informational gatherings in concert with a trained corps of committed volunteers.
Although she started her volunteer work as a member of The Theatre Guild at Proctors, over time she opted to combine her rich experience as a seasoned teacher specializing in material culture, architecture and area history with her enjoyment of people and love of Proctors. Ms. Sassi is a proactive contributor to Proctors History Committee.
All tours offer an informal glimpse of the entire facility, including the new Proctors Guild Room and Museum. These gatherings are always informal, fun and informative, says Ms. Sassi. "This informal event is enriched by questions, memories, and interaction. I always suggest that participants bring their friends and a camera."
- For additional Tour Information, contact Marilyn Sassi, (518) 377-3282; firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about Proctors, including a brief history, visit proctors.org.
- For additional information on the Schenectady Heritage Area Visitors Center, contact Maureen Gebert, email@example.com. (518) 382-5147.