Franklin Street relic in Schenectady getting a makeover

Sibling team renovating 430 Franklin St. for retail, office space

August 27, 2020


SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – The two-story office building at 430 Franklin St. has no flourishes. It is a squat, utilitarian rectangle, easy to overlook next to the classical City Hall across the street, the lions emerging from the roof line of the Seneca building on Jay Street and the spires and yellow brick of the Seed of Abraham synagogue next door.

Built to last from poured concrete in 1956 as offices for IBM and Met Life, the 8,500-square-foot building took the place of a far bigger, more elegant structure erected in 1830: The Van Curler Opera House, an extremely fancy place with a turret on one corner that resembled a minaret, an abundance of decorative brickwork and a grand, two-story entrance. The opera house seated 800 and was called “one of the largest and best appointed theatre stages in the country,” according to an illustrated edition of the Schenectady Gazette from 1898. Stars like Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor and George Jessel played there; so did the Ziegfeld Follies.

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