Artist Milton Resnick’s Synagogue Studio at 87 Eldridge Street Revamped for Exhibition Space in February

Its subtle presence on the block spurred plenty of curiousity over the years. Always appearing empty. Not so. The 100-year-old former synagogue at 87 Eldridge Street – the onetime art studio of Milton Resnick – is undergoing an extensive renovation and will open to the public in four months. The timing is right, too, as Grand Street is quickly becoming a gallery mecca.

The late Milton Resnick purchased this lovely piece of Lower East Side history back in 1977. The abstract painter acquired the building fifteen years after his wife, painter Pat Passlof, herself bought the 1874 synagogue around the corner at 80 Forsyth Street (for $20,000). Though married, the two lived, and worked, apart in their respective properties until Resnick committed suiced twelve years ago. Passlof passed in 2011.

A trustee from the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation – the nonprofit created in the wake of her death – then sold 80 Forsyth for $6.25 million in 2013. In her will, Passlof asked that this property be sold, with profits to be used to restore 87 Eldridge Street into an “exhibition space and study center” that showcased her husband’s work.

Four years later, it appears the dream is coming true. The restoration project has been ongoing since last October, hidden behind sidewalk shed and construction materials. Apparently, the bulk of the costs went toward installing climate control to keep the art intact.

Photo: Ryall Sheridan Architects

Above is a rendering of what it’ll look like upon completion. Ryall Porter Sheridan was hired for the gig.

The Renovation of Milton Resnick’s former studio and home at 87 Eldridge will begin in early 2016.  The firm of  Ryall Porter Sheridan has been hired to do the renovation retaining the special character of the over-100-year old building, especially its soaring main Sanctuary.  The new space will have exhibitions spaces, Milton’s late studio and the offices of the Foundation.

The building has a rich history, reflecting the changing character of the Lower East Side of Manhattan over the past century.  It was respectively a tenement, a synagogue, an African American church and finally Resnick’s studio and home from 1977 until his death in 2004.  It was here that Resnick painted many of the heavily encrusted paintings he became known for, as well as his visionary late works.

The Milton Resnick Studio at 87 Eldridge Street should open to the public in February with a Milton Resnick Retrospective that’ll showcase roughly 30 of his pieces, about a dozen of which will be borrowed from private and museum collections.