ESD LogoFormer Cigar Factory to be Transformed into Photography Museum, Gallery and Community Educational Center in Kingston

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Empire State Development today announced the groundbreaking for the future home of the $2 million Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) at the former Van Slyke & Horton cigar factory located in the Midtown Arts District in Kingston, Ulster County. CPW has acquired the four story, 40,000 square foot commercial building and will adapt and transform it into a photography museum, gallery and community educational center, retaining 60 jobs and creating an additional seven jobs.  This project will help grow the thriving arts and cultural movement in downtown Kingston, which is attracting residents and visitors to this historic city. 

Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Hope Knight said,  “Transforming a onetime cigar factory into the Center for Photography’s new home showcases how our strategic regional investments work to re-envision communities around New York State. This historic building is now taking the long view, with a focus on art and education that will draw Kingston visitors and residents both now and for years to come.”

Executive Director of the Center for Photography at Woodstock Brian Wallis said, "CPW is deeply grateful to Governor Hochul and Mayor Noble for supporting this project, and for recognizing how the arts can be a key driver of downtown revitalization and economic development. We look forward to transforming this architecturally striking, historic building into a cultural hub that helps to build a sense of community in the Midtown Arts District and assures that Kingston is a great destination to live, work and visit in the Hudson Valley."

CPW was founded in 1977 and is dedicated to supporting artists working in photography and related media and provides an artistic home for contemporary and creative photography with exhibitions, workshops, auctions, lectures, services for artists, darkroom, gallery talks, programs for children, permanent collections, library archives, fellowship and publication.  During the first phase of the project, CPW will renovate the basement and bottom two floors of the building for a photography museum and educational center and the top floors will be renovated during a second phase and will be utilized for commercial activity related to the local creative economy, in line with the city’s Art and Culture Master Plan, with the goal to become a cultural hub in Kingston. To support this project, Empire State Development awarded the City of Kingston a $1.5 million Restore NY grant to rehabilitate the building and an ESD Capital Grant of $350,000 recommended by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.

Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Dr. Marsha Gordon, President & CEO of The Business Council of Westchester and Dr. Kristine Young, president of SUNY Orange said, “Artists are the lifeblood and legacy of this area, and we are proud to support the Center of Photography as a vital hub for our creative community. Through education and the arts, we can continue to fuel the important work they do, driving inspiration as well as growth of the regional economy.”

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “The Hudson Valley has always been an arts enclave, with our local arts and cultural organizations prevailing as two of our greatest economic drivers and a beacon of self-discovery that can inspire us to expand our worldview. We are thrilled that the Midtown Kingston Arts District will soon include the Center for Photography at Woodstock, which will continue to raise the profile of our community as a thriving hub for arts, culture, and learning.”

Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger said, "I'm thrilled to see the groundbreaking of the Center for Photography at Woodstock in Midtown Kingston, and want to thank Governor Hochul, Empire State Development CEO Hope Knight, and the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council for helping to make this artistic and cultural vision a reality. I look forward to seeing the many ways that CPW's new facility will enrich our community, support our local artists, inspire the next generation of photographers, and contribute to the economic vitality of our County and region." 

City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said, “I would like to thank Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for their commitment to Kingston. CPW’s purchase and adaptive reuse of this long underutilized building fits perfectly within our economic development goals of continuing to support a vibrant arts and cultural hub here in the heart of Kingston. We look forward to the work planned for this building and seeing a new community development opportunity flourish.”

About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York's chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NY," the State's iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit and

*** Photos courtesy of ©Eduard Hueber/archphoto


Kristin Devoe | | 518-414-1087

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