New Public/Private Partnership Orientation Center to Improve Visitor Experience
Includes Major Painting Project, New Wayfinding Maintenance Facility, Solar, General Site Improvements
View Renderings Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Olana State Historic Site will undergo major capital and site improvement projects over the next two years, including construction of the Frederic Church Center for Art and Landscape, a new entry and orientation facility at the historic site in Hudson, Columbia County. The sustainably designed, all-electric Frederic Church Center will be a gateway to all visitors to Olana State Historic Site and is the marquee project of a $25 million investment to the site.
"The new projects will build on the legacy of Olana - the visionary home, studio and landscape design of artist Frederic Church and his family," Governor Hochul said. "The Frederic Church Center will add to this canvas and help to welcome patrons to one of the most strikingly beautiful places in New York State."
"With these $25 million in improvements, Olana will once again welcome visitors from in and out of our state to take in breathtaking views and education programs," said Lieutenant Governor Delgado. "Thanks to everyone's commitment to this partnership and we invite everyone to come rediscover Olana."
The building will include a spacious entry lobby for ticketing and orientation, a café, restrooms, and a multipurpose room adjoining outdoor terraces and paths that connect to Olana's historic carriage road network, making all 250 acres of the historic landscape an integral part of public interpretation. As the principal entry point for a National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site that attracts over 200,000 visitors annually, the Frederic Church Center will provide a highly visible, publicly accessible demonstration of sustainable design and carbon neutral construction.
Olana was the 19th century home, studio and designed landscape of Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church in Hudson. These major projects are the result of the award-winning Strategic Landscape Design Plan developed in 2015 between New York State Parks, The Olana Partnership, the LA Group, and Nelson, Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. The plan received the 2017 National Honor Award for Analysis and Planning from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "The more than 200,000 annual visitors to Olana will be greeted by a spectacular and spacious new orientation site before enjoying the grounds where they can walk, hike, picnic, paint, photograph and dream much the way the Church family did centuries ago. We are grateful for our connection with The Olana Partnership, collaborating state agencies and the $1 million State and Municipal Facilities Program grant secured by Assemblymember Didi Barrett supporting the Olana State Historic Site."
Dr. Sean Sawyer, Washburn & Susan Oberwager President of The Olana Partnership, said, "Fifty-six years ago private citizens and New York State joined together to save Olana from destruction. In the succeeding decades, Olana's public-private partnership has become a national exemplar for the stewardship of public places. Today, The Olana Partnership is thrilled to mark the next, brilliant chapter in Olana's story, one in which the commitment of our board and supporters has been joined by New York State to make the fullness of Frederic Church's vision apparent for new generations."
Additional projects in the next year include: a complete exterior painting of the historic house ($1.5 million); construction of a state-of-the-art maintenance facility ($6 million); rehabilitation of a dam and spillway, new ADA parking area, dark sky lighting and native plant species ($2 million).
Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "Through the Market New York program, I LOVE NY supports important regional tourism projects like the improvements at Olana. This unique Path Through History attraction helps tell the story of the Hudson Valley, and spectacularly adds to all there is to see and do in the region, from historic homes to sculpture parks to exceptional food and beverage offerings. Olana's upgrades will transform the visitor experience at this must-see destination that welcomes guests from all over the world."
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen Harris said, "NYSERDA looks forward to following the progress of the improvements at the Olana State Historic site, which will serve as a model for clean and resilient design with the incorporation of energy efficiency and electrification features, clean renewable solar energy and electric vehicle charging for an overall lower carbon footprint. This project will enhance what is already a gem in the Hudson community while providing the health benefits of a greener site from the visitor-facing perspective as well as maintenance behind the scenes in support of the Climate Act goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050."
New York State Senator Daphne Jordan said, "Olana State Historic Site is an architectural, cultural, and artistic marvel. It's almost impossible to overstate how fortunate we are to have this national treasure so accessible for our local communities. Each time I've visited Olana I've come away inspired, having learned something new and with a deeper appreciation for the genius, talent, and unrivaled vision of Frederic Church. Olana is one of the true American cultural touchstones and I'm pleased to see the $25 million capital improvement project move forward, especially construction of the Frederic Church Center. Credit to Governor Hochul and State Parks Commissioner Kulleseid for advancing this initiative and for always making our State historic sites and parks a public priority. I can't wait to come back and experience the completed project and the many new wonderful additions to Olana, which is a genuine treasure for our Hudson Valley, Capital Region, and entire state."
Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, "Olana, crown jewel of the Hudson Valley, is a mecca for those who enjoy American art, great architecture, stunning hikes and breathtaking viewsheds. The new Frederic Church Visitor Center will introduce visitors to the man behind the landmark, a 19th century painter, architect, farmer and social activist whose legacy remains timely well into the 21st century. I was pleased to recently secure a $1 million legislative grant to help support the construction of this new, carbon-neutral visitors center and I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for both her steadfast appreciation of Olana and her recognition of its economic impact on our region and the state."
Mayor Kamal Johnson said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for recognizing Olana State Historic Site as the architectural and cultural wonder that it is. The new, carbon-neutral Frederic Church Visitor Center will be the perfect introduction to the region for visitors and remind locals why they love to call the Hudson Valley home. I look forward to enjoying the revamped site and all that Olana has to offer when the project is completed."
TOP has raised approximately $10 million in private donations and grants including a $1.4 million Empire State Development Market NY Regional Tourism Grant and $1.8 million in support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Carbon Neutral Community Economic Development Grant Program.
The design of the new Frederic Church Center features a whole building systems approach to achieve a low environmental impact and reduced energy consumption with minimal maintenance. It will also expand Olana's visitor capacity by serving as a base for sitewide interpretive programming and recreational use. Construction is set to begin in Spring 2023 with an opening date of Spring 2024. There will be a yet-to-be-designed solar component.
To complement the Frederic Church Center and facility operations, design has already started on the expansion and upgrade of the existing Olana maintenance building. The building will have new functions such as electric equipment and vehicle charging stations and improved staff facilities. Site improvements will include better circulation in and around the maintenance area with provisions for improved equipment and materials storage facilities. This phase has a completion goal of late 2024.
The project also includes repainting Olana's exterior in 2023 including windows, doors, porches and decorative cornices. Limited woodwork restoration and asbestos abatement of the window glazing will also be part of the project.
In addition, improvements to the Historic Farm Complex are underway, relocating a temporary parking area in the farm complex to restore the historic one-acre kitchen garden, improving lighting, creating ADA parking near Cosy Cottage, and repairing the dam and spillway in the lake.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by more than 78 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.