Sunday, September 15, 2013

Before There Was Any Thought of MAI

It started out, in 1937, as the Community Theatre and remained so for 35 years, until 1972, when the last picture show was screened there.

Two years from now, in 2015, this building is expected to be transformed into the Marina Abramovic Institute, and even the doubting Thomases have to be impressed by the project's ability to raise $661,452 in a month-long Kickstarter campaign.

In the building's eight decades of existence, it has had many lives and uses, but one that doesn't get much attention is its life as a nightclub--known first as Arthur's Court and then as Park VII. 

Recently, Gossips discovered an article, published on January 28, 1985, in The Columbia Request, reporting on the transformation of Arthur's Court into Park VII.

Park VII Is New Area Nightspot
After operating Arthur's Court for seven years, Jerry Porreca felt it was time for a change.
"I was fed up with the aggrevation [sic]," he said, looking over the completely remodeled lounge area that now occupies the site. "We've completely renovated this place and we're going after an entirely different crowd. We've developed a nightclub there, something Hudson has been missing for a long time."
The new facility is called Park VII and one look will tell you this is not the old Arthur's Court.
"It was a complete overhaul," Porreca said. "We went from a 60 seat bar to 150 seats. There's a new loft lounge where the old stairway used to be." Porreca noted the renovations took seven months.
The Park VII is in the eastern half of what once was the Community Theatre, on the corner of Columbia and Seventh Street, Hudson. The building was constructed 47 years ago. . . .
By removing the stairs to the old theatre's balcony, they created the upper lounge which provides patrons with an excellent view of the dance floor. A second group of tables sits under the loft. . . . 
Also as part of the renovations, the old rest room facilities, which had remained virtually unchanged since the building was a theatre, were moved to make room for a large new bandstand. Each weekend the nightspot hosts a band from New York City or Albany, contracted through a professional agency. The bandstand also serves as the base for the lounge's 50 inch TV screen, which is a popular amenity when major sporting events are broadcast. A large dance floor has also been opened up and every Thursday night a local DJ spins disco records through the bar's new sound system.
The entire nightspot has been repanelled with stained wood slabs and equipped with all new furniture, creating a warm and intimate atmosphere. The only thing that hasn't been changed is the large wood bar which was constructed when Porreca originally established the business.
"The biggest change is in our clientele," Porreca noted. "We're going for an older crowd now, mid-20s and up, quiet, with no nonsense. We're requiring proper attire. So we're bringing in a crowd here now that we've never seen before, We're going to keep a tight lid on it. We want people to be able to feel comfortable here, someplace they can bring their wives or girlfriends for a fun, hassle-free evening.". . .


  1. Oh my ... I don't even know where to start ... there is so much material there. I'll let someone else poke the holes.

    What's really interesting is that I don't remember either of those incarnations at all, although I do have distinct memories of it as a theatre where I saw movies as a youngster.

  2. How long did Park VII last ?

  3. Terrific find of detail on the Arthur's Court/Park VII dynamic. But the
    Community was built and opened in 1937, remember, not 1934!

  4. Interesting era. Back then 70's and into the early-mid 80's many used to get their paid checks on Thursdays and most of the retail stores and dime stores used to stay open till 9pm on Thursday evenings with banks having extended hours. Thursday nights were a night to go into Hudson, shop and socialize and run into people. The same night people used to go out and get shnockered up in the bars. Friday was usually a slower night because folks would recover and then Saturday evenings folks would do it all over gain with Crossroads Tavern on the corner of 9H and 66 "Torn down and now a Mobile Station", Jasons Pub in Stottville for live music and a few other places. Not sure how long Park VII lasted because I moved to Albany area in 1986 and avoided Hudson because there was nothing to do in Hudson during the 80's except to drink in a bar which was not a life and everything just died out. Many bars fizzled out due to the coming of heavy DWI enforcement. Back when drinking age was 18, bar traffic was significantly higher and many bars were able to exist with the extra patronage but of course there came the problems as well.