On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, the LPC is holding public hearings on the proposed desig- nations of the American Bank Note Company Printing Plant in the Bronx, and Congregation Tifereth Israel in Queens. The hearings will take place at the Commission’s offices, located at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North (time tbd). Any information you can provide about the buildings’ significance and condition is relevant to our consideration. Attached please find a statement of significance and photograph of each building.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Director of External Affairs
Landmarks Preservation Commission
CONGREGATION TIFERETH ISRAEL, 109-18 54th Avenue, Borough of Queens. Built 1911, Crescent L. Varrone, architect.
The oldest active synagogue in Corona, the Congregation Tifereth Israel is a rare survivor of the earliest Jewish synagogues built in Queens. This synagogue, whose full name is translated as the Congregation Independent Community, Glory of Israel, People of Corona, was constructed in 1911 to house a congregation of Jews that had relocated to Queens from other parts of New York City. Corona had a relatively small enclave of Jews at the beginning of the twentieth century; of approximately 1.3 million Jews in New York City in 1913, about 23,000 lived in the Borough of Queens.
The original members of the Congregation Tifereth Israel predominantly came from the tenement district of the Lower East Side, which was home to an enormous Yiddish- speaking immigrant community hailing mostly from Eastern Europe. In 1918, East Queens had 18 synagogues, two of which were located in Corona.
Of these two synagogues, only the Congregation Tifereth Israel survives.
The Congregation Tifereth Israel, although located in Queens, is strikingly reminiscent of synagogues found in the Jewish enclaves of the Lower East Side. These synagogues, which had to be shoehorned into narrow tenement lots, were often similar in size, material and proportion to their neighboring tenements and commercial buildings. Often executed in a neo-Classical or Beaux-Arts style with Moorish details, these synagogues typically featured symmetrical tripartite facades with a central entrance and corner towers. It is notable that the Congregation Tifereth Israel synagogue follows this pattern, considering its location in a small-town environment ungoverned by the restraints of the densely urban Lower East Side.
Designed by local architect C. L. Varrone, the synagogue is two stories high and was originally clad with horizontal clapboard siding. It has pointed arched windows, a tripartite upper-story window with a roundel featuring a Star of David in colored glass, and decorative wood ornament at its gabled parapet. The original wood stoop and railing has been replaced with a brick porch with an iron railing, and the wood clapboard siding has been covered with stucco. Despite these alterations, the Congregation Tifereth Israel remains a rare survivor of the earliest synagogues in Queens and a striking representative of a regional vernacular style.