September 25, 2000

Pataki Announces $10.6 Million Grant for Bailey Hall

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The only place where blue dominated red on Saturday was in Governor George E. Pataki’s wardrobe.

Wearing a blue blazer over a red tie to symbolize his allegiance, first to his alma mater Yale and then to Cornell, Pataki announced the state’s $10.6 million grant for the Bailey Hall renovation project.

“For nearly a century, Bailey Hall has enabled students, faculty and Ithaca and Tompkins County residents to enjoy world-famous authors, musicians, performers and lecturers,” Pataki said, sharing the podium with President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Ithaca Mayor Alan J. Cohen ’81.

Rawlings, recalling a recent campus tour with the Governor, told the crowd of Pataki’s reaction to the central University auditorium.

“What is that?” the Governor asked of the 1912 University relic.

Reminding Pataki that Bailey Hall is a statutory building, Rawlings noted that the building had not seen any renovation support from the state since it first opened its doors.

Then the Governor decided that now is the time for change, pledging to remember Bailey while writing the annual state budget.

“These funds will preserve Bailey Hall and allow it to offer 21st Century amenities and comforts, while maintaining its unique character and charm,” he said.

The $10.6 million of state-supported funds will go toward the auditorium’s structural and mechanical rehabilitation, including improvements for handicapped access.

Cornell’s $2.5 million contribution will be directed towards seating, carpeting and sound enhancements as well as other additions.

“With padded seating and wider aisles, I think [Bailey] will be a better theater for symphonic ensemble and contemporary ensemble as well,” said Prof. Mark Scatterday, music department chair. In addition, “the fact that the renovations will include some major changes to the staging area [means that] there is a potential to do opera, ballet and theater.”

Bailey Hall will undergo renovations that will close the auditorium in 2002. The building would then re-open in the fall of 2003.

“I was always embarrassed to show people Bailey. Now it’s going to be something that we are all really going to be proud of,” Scatterday said.

Since 1995, when Pataki took office in Albany, the state has apportioned $132 million in capital funding for University buildings.

Beginning this year, the State of New York will provide annual funding of $300,000 to support the Cornell Nanobiotechnology Center. Various other contributions have already aided the University’s technology research projects, such as the $1 million grant Pataki offered during Homecoming Weekend last year to further the genomics initiative.

A state and federal historic landmark, Bailey Hall was designed by Edward Green, class of 1878. It represents early-20th Century classical revival architecture, with its colonnaded portico and monumental stairs emphasizing its main entrance.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch