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Accessible Travel Series: Bardavon 1869 Opera House

Date Published: November 21, 2023

It’s the oldest continuously operating theater in New York State, a majestic brick building that has stood gloriously in downtown Poughkeepsie for more than 150 years and watched as the city around it grew and evolved.  

And yet, even with all its antique charm and historical significance, the 944-seat Bardavon 1869 Opera House — which was constructed in 1869 by James Collingwood and has hosted such prominent figures as Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie and Franklin D. Roosevelt — stands out as a very accessible and inclusive facility with modern amenities and updated technology, along with a staff that has adopted a forward-thinking approach to the theater-going experience. 

That has opened the door to many people who otherwise may not have been able to enjoy a thrilling night at the theater, which is fantastic, considering how many amazing shows are on the Bardavon’s schedule. Here’s what theater patrons can expect: 

New Paltz Ballet Nutcracker
New Paltz Ballet performance of "The Nutcracker" (photo by Steve Mack)

Accessibility: Accessible seating is situated on the theater’s lower level, and accessible restrooms are also available. To see a seating chart, click here. There are accessible parking spaces located at the surrounding City of Poughkeepsie municipal lots located on Cannon Street or the parking garage at 38 Civic Center Plaza. If you need assistance, Bardavon event staff will be available at the theater’s marquee entranceway on Market Street. 

Related: Accessible Parks & Trails

Sensory-Sensitive Performances: These select performances give families with children on the autism spectrum or those with special needs a chance to enjoy a theater experience without the noise and sometimes over-stimulating effects of certain productions. The house lights stay on, the sound is kept low and the doors remain open throughout the performance. Occupancy is limited for these shows, and the well-trained Bardavon staff is attentive to the needs of its guests. 

The next scheduled sensory-sensitive production is the Dec. 8 performance of “The Nutcracker.” Doors open at 5 p.m. for the 6 p.m. show. Seating is limited for this one-hour performance. Contact the Bardavon box office directly at boxoffice@bardavon.org or (845) 473-2072 for details on sensory-sensitive events. 

Related: Dutchess Tourism Accessible Travel Series 

Audio Loop: Audience members with hearing loss can now experience performances — including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Met Live in HD — to their fullest. For those without telecoil-equipped hearing aids or cochlear implant devices, portable hearing loop receivers with ear buds are available to rent from the Bardavon box office. This is thanks to the generous donations of longtime Bardavon members Julia and Albert Rosenblatt and Rita and Morton Alterman. 



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