The Spencertown Academy brings Music and Art to the Hudson

In a quaint corner of the Hudson Valley, bordering Massachusetts lies Spencertown. This small hamlet is home to the Spencertown Academy, an institution dedicated to education and preservation of the arts. The academy strives to foster a sense of community by promoting the arts and humanities to all ages.

For over 50 years, the Spencertown Academy has excelled in this mission, hosting a slew of traveling musicians and artists, as well as holding numerous annual events. The venue has hosted performances supporting local talent, such as one highlighting blues women of the Capital Region. Additionally they have hosted national stars, like grammy-nominated singer-songwriters Gary Lucas and Guy Davis.

The Academy also promotes community involvement in the arts, hosting free writing, and blues workshops for all to attend.

Exterior of the Spencertown Academy

The Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s history dates back almost two centuries to 1845. At its founding, the academy was not an arts center, but rather a teachers school. Founded by pastor Timothy Woodbridge, the academy was open to the region’s boys and girls, an uncommon practice at the time.

By 1847, construction on the schoolhouse had been completed, leaving the Academy’s current structure. The two-story high Greek revival building featured imposing ionic columns, a large front portico, and a high gabled roof, making it an architectural marvel of the region. In 1973, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. 

The Academy continued life as a public school until its closure in 1970. Desperate to save this community icon, Spencertown residents founded the Spencertown Academy Society. This society undertook a 10 year restoration of the building, allowing for its reopening as a community arts center. Following the tumult of the 2008 recession, the community banded together to eliminate the academy’s debt and establish it as a volunteer-based organization. 

Today, the Academy hosts rich arts spaces, both indoor and outdoor. At its center, a 110 seat auditorium holds the Academy’s concerts, theater performances, and film screenings. The Academy’s Backer Room is a smaller, more intimate space in a restored classroom, used for its educational programs. The interior of the Academy also features two art galleries, featuring art and artisan pieces from locals. 

In addition to this is the sprawling outdoor spaces, home to many of the Academies annual events. The Academy hosts the annual Hidden Gardens event, offering tours of the Spencertown Green’s manicured landscapes. This event also hosts a plethora of local craft and antique vendors. Other outdoor events, like Twilight in the Garden, and Community Day offer a chance for Spencertown’s residents to get together and enjoy food, and live music in an outdoor setting. 

The Academy remains dedicated to the community, and especially its youth, hosting events to get them involved in the arts. The annual Festival of Books, sees the Academy transformed into a massive library, offering books for all ages. Additionally, the event features book talks, live readings, and other special activities. 

The Academy has a busy upcoming season, with many events scheduled for the Summer. On May 31, the Academy will host The Lovestruck Balladeers playing an old-fashioned mix of Americana and swing. Continuing their dedication to arts education, the Academy will host a poetry and prose writing workshop on June 15. This workshop will focus on the Summer landscapes of Columbia County, and how nature has influenced past poets. In terms of theater, the Academy will show a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest on June 21. The upcoming summer season continues to show the Academy’s dedication for the performing arts, and local arts education. 

For more information, visit the Spencertown Academy website here.

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