When a performance and events setting is already listed in wedding publications like The Knot and Wedding Wire, and it’s the new focus for entertainment productions by the nearby Bardavon 1869 Opera House – before renovation of the one-time Masonic Temple is even completed – you know something’s happening in the heart of Poughkeepsie. Jim and Gina Sullivan literally established their “street cred” by converting one building on the block when they opened 40 Cannon Street with its apartment complex, brewery, wine bar and coffeeshop.
Now, with other family members joining them in the endeavor, they’ve purchased the building complex next door to transform it into a one-of-a-kind event space. Named Revel 32°, the massive 1845 building is being repurposed for fun and celebration, all with the intention to honor its past history and grandeur. It’s a huge project. I asked how it works to have multiple relatives as co-owners involved in such a hands-on project. Gina Sullivan tells me that, so far, it has worked well.
“Everybody is good at something, and everyone stays in their lane. It’s worked out perfectly. My husband’s a contractor. We’ve been developing in Poughkeepsie for about ten years, starting with dilapidated vacant homes. We’ve been able to bring them back to their former beauty, and we’ve kept them. I take over and manage the properties.
“When 40 Cannon came along, it was much bigger than anything we’d ever done. We had a different vision for this: to be part of the revitalization of the City on a bigger scale. Then next door went up for sale two months after our ribbon-cutting, and with our proximity to it, we cared about what happened there. We’ve always admired this building. We spoke with the Masons, who were operating on a much smaller scale by then. We saw what it could be and took the risk.”
The structure is about 20,000 square feet, with eight rooms: two that are very large and one with a stage and balcony. First built as a church, it was taken over by the Masons during the height of their activities in the area. The Sullivans have striven to respect some of their iconic design features, like the stained-glass windows in one room and the basic architecture of the building overall.
“The entire building was filled with historical documents. The Masons took everything they wanted, but there was still a lot left. We donated that to the Dutchess County Historical Society. There’s an exhibit now in the lobby of 40 Cannon, which includes some of the artifacts about the history of Poughkeepsie. We invited the public to come in and search through the artifacts – people who knew the history of the Masons. Everything had a specific meaning.
“We did a lot of redesigning, leaving it pretty much the way it was, but with more neutral colors. And we want the front to look the way it did in the 19th century. People have not been in this building because it’s not been open to the public. They’ve always passed it by. Even for us, we had no idea how amazing it was, even though we’ve been next door to it for this long. The potential keeps growing: conferences, meetings and even festivals. It’s a unique space in the heart of the City, it’s affordable and we have plenty of parking across the street.”
Currently the New York Academy of Ballet is the first and only permanent tenant, but inquiries from not-for-profit groups and other art organizations indicate that filling the venue with temporary programs will happen easily. Renovations in the various rooms are being done in phases, including a rooftop space that overlooks the City center and the landscape beyond. “You could get married up there, or have a cocktail party. So far what people seem to like is that we have a catering kitchen, but we don’t have a caterer. You can bring in a $10-per-person pizza party or hold an elaborate high-end affair. You’re not stuck to a menu or a pricing package. We supply tables and chairs. We have other private things booked, but we hope to do more with the Bardavon, like a pre-theater or afterparty for them. We’re not into the production of shows. So, what they’re offering in partnering with us is invaluable.”
The Bardavon is teaming up with Revel 32° for a Grand Opening dress-to-impress dance party, to be held on Saturday, November 23 at 7 p.m. Remember Jones, a 12-piece soul band, will play two sets, including one featuring works from the Amy Winehouse album Back to Black. General admission tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 on the night of the show; limited $50 VIP tickets gives guests access to the exclusive Square and Compass balcony lounge for a champagne party. All tickets are available on Ticketmaster, through the Bardavon box office or at the 40 Cannon Street management office during daytime business hours. Put it on your calendar, and check out www.facebook.com/revel32 for other upcoming events.
Please note that Revel 32° is not currently accessible to all persons. The addition of an elevator and other accessibility renovations are in the planning stages; for now, if mobility is an issue, patrons should call (845) 345-1722 for special accommodations.
Revel 32°, 32 Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie; (845) 345-1722, www.revel32.com