About Hubbard Hall
Freight Yard Project
The Cambridge Freight Yard Revitalization Project is a community initiative to revitalize the historic commercial heart of the Village of Cambridge as a magnet for residents and visitors.
The Project seeks to:
• Generate business activity and create jobs in Southern Washington County
• Preserve and expand cultural, historic and recreational assets and opportunities
• Attract visitors to the area and
• Address important Village infrastructure constraints, primarily parking and sewage
The Cambridge Valley Community Development and Preservation Partnership, Inc , a coalition of individuals from local business, the nonprofit sector and government, purchased the Cambridge Freight Yard property in June 2004, as the first phase of the Revitalization Project. The property, located off Main and Washington Streets, comprises approximately two acres and includes five historic buildings.
Preserving Historic Structures/Attracting New Visitors
Freight Yards such as Cambridge's were part and parcel of many communities in rural New York State. The railroad came to Cambridge in 1852 and the Freight Yard is largely intact, a rarity. Three 19th century freight buildings are among those being preserved. Prior to the interstate highway system, railways were critical in linking goods from rural areas with markets in cities. Lovejoy Steel Plows and Rice Seeds along with dairy products and potatoes were just a few of the goods shipped throughout the country from the Cambridge Freight Yard. Celebrities such as Mark Twain and Susan B. Anthony also alighted from trains to speak at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge as did thousands of visitors from as far away as New York City to attend the Great Cambridge Fair. Recognizing the importance of the history of the Freight Yard, the Community Partnership seeks to revitalize the Freight Yard and make it a destination for tourists. Visitors will be attracted by the historic charm of the preserved rural freight yard. Guided by interpretive signage and exhibits, they will explore the role of the rail system in the agrarian economy of the late 19th century.
The three historic freight buildings are being revitalized for public use to attract residents as well as visitors to the Village's center. The Beacon Feed Freight Building is being transformed into a visual arts and dance center for Hubbard Hall, the community arts center, housing classroom and performance space and artist studios. The Beacon Feed building, the first of the buildings to be renovated, hosted its initial events in April 2006. The Cambridge Depot (furthest north on the property) will have office space and a seasonal gallery featuring rotating exhibits about the history of the region and the work of local artists. Eventually, as part of the third phase of the project, Hubbard Hall plans to construct a performing arts annex on the property. Finally a small inviting park at the center of the Freight Yard will provide opportunities for recreation and relaxation for visitors, families and residents.
Agricultural Heritage and Promotion
The Project also is to support the local agrarian economy and helps to preserve and celebrate the area's agricultural heritage. The seasonal outdoors Cambridge Village Farmers' Market now makes its home next to the Freight Yard each Sunday. In addition, the Project includes development of a year-round outlet to market and promote local farm products in the Lovejoy Foundry Freight Barn (which is the middle freight building).
Promote Business Activity
The Project also supports economic development and job creation in Cambridge's Village center. In response to findings from the Village's comprehensive planning process, a new public parking lot will be part of the Freight Yard Project, and several businesses will have access to land for septic systems allowing them to grow. The Project will catalyze the creation of business outlets in three underutilized buildings. One-Five East Main Street is currently being revitalized by a private owner to host an office. Likewise, 13-15 East Main Street (two doors west of Hubbard Hall) has been sold for private development and The Blacksmith's Shop. The Community Partnership will hold preservation easements on these structures to ensure that the exterior character of the buildings is preserved.
For more information about the Freight Yard Revitalization Project or if you are interested in getting involved, please contact Sarah Ashton at (518) 677-3555 or email her.