Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue on 14th Street is Designated a Landmark

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 at 6:02 am by

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Photo: Manhattan Sideways

Local activists kept the faith and a Lower East Side icon was saved.

Thanks to the grassroots efforts of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and its supporters, the 150-year-old German Romanesque-style Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue at 334 East 14th Street is now officially designated a city landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Commission decreed the protective status yesterday, after a protracted battle spanning decades.

“It’s wonderful that after nearly half a century, this venerable piece of our city and our neighborhood’s history will finally receive the recognition and protection it deserves and which we fought so hard for,” said Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the GVSHP. “With recent plans by the current congregation putting the fate of this historic building in doubt, it’s especially important that landmark designation was finally granted [yesterday]. I am confident that this congregation will continue to be able to grow and thrive with landmark protections for the building, and we recommit our offer to the congregation to assist in pursuing funding for maintaining or updating the building, and to pursue additional spaces in the area should the congregation’s needs extend beyond what the building can provide,” added Berman.

However, advocates didn’t obtain 100% of the stated goal. The rear structure was not included in the designation.

The Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue was initially conceived as a German Baptist Church in 1866. It would undergo two more tenant changes during the intervening years – first a rechristening to the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in 1926, and then a complete conversion to the Conservative synagogue in 1962.

Before yesterday, the house of worship had been in “landmark limbo” for almost five decades. Apparently the house of worship was calendared and considered for protection back in 1966, but for reasons unknown, the then fledgeling Landmarks Preservation Commission never voted on the issue. Only recently did the matter resurfaced, as the congregation suddenly decided to place itself on the open market for nearly $14 million (apparently they outgrew the space).

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