Fifty Year Landmark Limbo May Soon End for 150-Year-Old Synagogue Building With An Uncertain Future
GVSHP has taken action to help ensure that the nearly 150-year-old Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue building at 334 East 14th Street in the East Village finally gets consideration for landmark status, just as the future of the building enters a new and potentially uncertain phase.
Please join us at the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on Tuesday, October 29th.
Built as a German Baptist Church in 1866 and converted to a Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in 1926, 334 East 14th Street (1st/2nd Avenues) has served as the Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue since 1962. Designed in a distinctive German Romanesque style displaying the roots of the original congregants, over time onion domes were added and crosses removed to reflect the building's new occupants. In 1966, just a year after the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) was created, the building was 'calendared' and considered for landmark designation.
For reasons no one seems to recall, the Commission never voted on the proposed designation, and the building has remained in "landmarks limbo" for forty-seven years. Earlier this month, news broke that the congregation was considering, among other options, selling or developing the historic building.
GVSHP immediately assembled fellow preservation, East Village, and Jewish history groups to join us in writing to the LPC asking them to finally consider the site for landmark designation while it's still possible (read letter here). Landmark designation would not prevent the congregation from expanding or even from adding on to the structure; it would merely help ensure that the important exterior historic features and the building's connection to a century-and-a-half history remains. GVSHP has also reached out to the congregation's leadership to offer help to identify ways to meet their space needs while preserving the building's potentially landmark-worthy features.
We are pleased to report that in response, the LPC has scheduled a hearing on the proposed landmark designation of the building later this month. Read more at DNAinfo.com.
HOW TO HELP:
Attend the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on Tuesday, October 29th at 11:20 am in the LPC Hearing Room, One Centre Street (at Chambers Street), 9th floor (arrive early to go through security, bring photo ID). Use sample testimony HERE. If you plan to attend, let us know, so we can let you know if the scheduled time changes, and provide other details
Write to the Landmarks Preservation Commission NOW, urging them to move ahead with consideration of landmark designation of this historic building - use sample letter HERE.
Historic houses of worship are an incredibly important piece of our neighborhood's architectural and cultural fabric; GVSHP has made a priority of preserving these important structures. Read more about the religious edifices GVSHP has helped preserve here (p. 52), in our report "Ten Years: A Thousand Buildings: One Hundred Blocks - A Decade of Progress on Landmark and Zoning Protections in the Village, East Village, and NoHo." Find out more about our East Village preservation work here (p.18) and here (p.40).