Friday, January 4, 2008

Synagogue may be next Queens landmark

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.

Diane Jackier
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.


Anonymous said...

What, the building has been changed!!

They can't landmark it!! At least that is what they said about St Saviours.

Anonymous said...

The landmark law must be overturned. We have to start over.

Anonymous said...

What the Eldridge Synagogue is to Manhattan, Tifereth Israel is to Queens- a remnant of a once-larger Jewish neighborhood.

Today, it is used by a Bukharian-Jewish congregation. On one hand, it's good to see it still in use as a synagogue, on the other hand, I fear that without landmarking the Bukharians may add brick fences and other gaudy items to the building.

The section of Corona where this shul stands was once home to the young Estee Lauder. Her descendant Ronald Lauder is known among Jews for his philanthropy, funding the restoration of Jewish commuinties throughout Eastern Europe. Maybe he can help save this synagogue.

Historic Corona is quickly being replaced by Fedders tenements, so any new landmark for the nabe is good.

Anonymous said...

The Landmark Preservation Committee is offerring up 1 token property - I'll take it no questions asked, thank you very much.

But what about St. Saviours? It has no big benefactor or perhaps wiping out a historic Christian buiding is deliberate - perhaps we need a celebrety Jackie O figure a la St. Barts on Park Ave to lobby for St. Saviour on glamourious Rust St in tony Maspeth to be noticed? Let's get Britney down here to add cachet and booty action to the cause!

Anonymous said...

The landmarks law should be overturned.

It discriminates.

Any takers? Please.

Anonymous said...

We're out there working on it.
LPC discriminates and the law will fall!

Anonymous said...

If you're in favor of more landmarks, then be in favor of more landmarks. Supporting landarking for the synagogue--while still calling attention to what happened at St Saviours--would be a lot more helpful than making divisive comments about discrimination

Anonymous said...

It's a Jewish site.

We've got a Jewish mayor
who swore his oath of office
on his old Bar Mitzvah bible.

It'll get landmarked!

Anonymous said...

Many of our landmarks
are still being "bestowed" in a
highly discriminatory manner.

The LPC insists on favoring Manhattan....
followed by Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens,
Staten descending order.

We are ranked #4
in the number of sites which have been designated in our borough by the LPC.

As the LPC gets more money.....
less of it seems to be spent in Queens.

When the foundation of a house is rotten
the structure can never be properly repaired!

Thus, we are seeking the repeal
of our unjustly applied landmarks law......
no peace!

We have, to date, allied ourselves
with others who similarly feel
that they are being shortchanged
by this capricious law.

We intend on building a cross professional alliance
of developers and preservationists alike.....
to work in tandem in an effort
to overturn a law that serves neither side well.

All of NYC will then have to sink or swim
in the same brutal waters
that Queens has been forced to tread
for over 4 decades.

Signed D.C. said...

I'm not *absolutely* sure it's still there as I haven't set foot in my hometown of Corona for over a year, but around the corner on 53rd Avenue is a disused synagogue building of red brick. Legend has it Madonna lived there for a while in the late '70s/very early '80s with her then-band, the Breakfast Club.

Anonymous said...

Let’s turn it into a mosque; at least people will be using the building.