Crews work on revitalizing the 1932 Olympic Arena facade in Lake Placid.
Officials at the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) say they are going “back in time” as they change the facade of the original Olympic Arena, the one build for the 1932 Olympic Winter Games.
The arena is sandwiched between the 2011-era convention center and the 1979-era Olympic fieldhouse, built for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. Construction of these buildings altered the appearance of the 1932 Arena, specifically the windows.
“If you drive by the building, you can actually see the archways of what were the windows, and obviously you can see the brick laid in there,” said Jon Lundin, ORDA public relations coordinator. “We’re actually going to put windows in there instead of bricks. It will allow a lot of natural daylight in and adding to the overall beauty of that building. It’s going to look much cleaner, much more beautiful and much more to what the building was intended to look like in the 1930s.”
The contractor for the work is J.T. Erectors, and the project is being financed by the remaining funds from a grant through Empire State Development, which paid for the construction of the newly completed Conference Center. The window work is only part of the revitalization.
The 1932 Arena is used today for skating and hockey. It was dedicated on Jan. 16, 1932 with a ceremony that included a radio broadcast from New York City to Lake Placid by Gustavus Kirby, past president of the American Olympic Committee who gave the dedication address. The Jan. 22, 1932 issue of the Lake Placid News reprinted his speech. Kirby spoke to the world, asking them to visit Lake Placid for the Olympics, and he spoke to local residents, who were to be the hosts of the first Olympic Games on American soil.
“The awarding of the III Olympic Winter Games to Lake Placid, the building of the bobsleigh run at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the building of the standardized Intervales 60 Meter Ski Jump Hill, and the laying out of miles of ski trails throughout your many mountains — and especially the erection of this arena — have changed Lake Placid from a pin point on the map of the world and the Adirondack Mountains as a mere hatched surface as a background, to a most prominent and enduring monument to sport.”
Construction of the arena’s first addition — the original conference center — began in 1967, and the new building was dedicated on June 1, 1968. It included conference rooms and an ice rink that was dedicated to legendary figure skating instructor Gustave Lussi. The conference center was located on the north side of the arena, which originally featured windows on the north side similar to those on the front of the building. Demolition of the 1968 addition began in August 2009 to make way for a new conference center, which opened in May 2011.
On the south side of the 1932 Arena is the fieldhouse for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games and is the home of the 1980 Herb Brooks Rink, where the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the famous game dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.”
Prior to the 1980 Games, renovations were made to the 1932 Arena, including additional seating, more locker rooms and a new roof. Lundin said the bricks were laid in the arena’s windows prior to the 1980 Games.