Inside the Decaying Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on Norfolk Street [PHOTOS]

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 at 11:06 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Sanctuary of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in ruins, Photo: Landmarks Conservancy

“SAVE the FIRST Eastern European [Russian] Synagogue in the Americas,” reads the inactive Facebook page dedicated to Beth Hamedrash Hagadol.

The historic Gothic Revival synagogue was built in 1850 as a Baptist church and purchased by the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol congregation in 1885 for $45,000 (about $1.2 million today). The New York City Landmarks Commission found that “Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City.”

This historic, religious edifice has been making headlines for some time now, mostly with regard to its preservation. The upkeep became too expensive for congregants. Moreover, even though it’s been protected since 1967, Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum had, at one point, petitioned the LPC to de-landmark the structure so that condominiums could be built instead. As a trade, a small synagogue would be built on the ground floor for the floundering congregation.

This image has been archived or removed.

Assessing the damage, Photo: Landmarks Conservancy

 

Greenbaum had a change of heart in March of last year, as alluded to in a recent Wall Street Journal article discussing the fate of Beth Hamedrash in the shadow of SPURA development.  Right now, only a handful of insiders actually know whether or not that petition to demolish will be back on the table. 

For now, we thought it prudent to show you what stands behind those rotting wooden doors of 60 Norfolk Street; to entice you to help. The Lower East Side’s history is literally being demolished. We still have a chance here. Let’s take it.  

These photographs of the synagogue interior were shot by the Landmarks Conservancy last July, and provided exclusively to Bowery Boogie. Let them resonate. As a community, we can figure out a way to help support and fund the restoration of this sacred site.

For more Boogie coverage on Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, please consult the archives.

This gallery has been removed.

Recent Stories

Fearing COVID-19 Resurgence, De Blasio Halts Indoor Dining Indefinitely

Not so fast. Phase 3 of the reopening plan is slated to launch on Monday. However, it arrives without the resumption of indoor dining at bars and restaurants, as initially conceived. Mayor de Blasio announced the news at his morning presser yesterday, citing the nationwide surges of COVID-19 cases and the elevated dangers of indoor […]

When Rivington House Wouldn’t Clean its Garbage Mess, a Neighbor Stepped In

A Good Samaritan took responsibility where a multimillion-dollar hospital system would not. As previously reported, the outside of Rivington House – future home of Mount Sinai’s future Behavioral Health facility – essentially devolved into decrepitude with the accumulation of trash at the doorstep. Untouched for days on end. But one Lower East Sider took matters […]

Chillhouse Shutters Original Essex Street Spa

The list of coronavirus-related business closures is getting longer by the week. Today brings word that an Essex Street newcomer has bitten the dust. Chillhouse, a millennials-style spa at 149 Essex Street, is the latest to fall. Ownership announced the permanent shutter in an e-mail to customers Tuesday afternoon. “As we all know too well […]

Hamilton Fish Park Pool to Reopen by August 1

In an about-face, the city announced yesterday that at least fifteen public pools will reopen across the Five Boroughs. Included in the lucky list is the Hamilton Fish Park pool, known to locals as the “Pitt Pool.” But the cooldown will have to wait another month. The reopenings are scheduled for August 1, and are […]

Cocoa Bar Closes its Clinton Street Cafe

Cocoa Bar closed its doors for the last time during the coronavirus shutdown. The Lower East Side offshoot of the Brooklyn original is now another statistic for businesses lost during the pandemic. The casual cafe and wine bar – heavy on the chocolate – spent thirteen years serving from its perch at 21 Clinton Street. Tombstone […]