1840s Townhouse on Rivington Street Gets Rear Yard Expansion

Posted on: March 19th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The last remnant of the Roumanian-American Synagogue on Rivington Street is undergoing an expansion.

Department of Buildings finally issued permits last month to the owner of 95 Rivington Street – Lorenzo Giuffredi, per public records – for a rear-yard addition. The official green light arrives over five years after initial filing. Work on the extension is ongoing, but the box of blocks is now visible looking behind the decrepit fence into the vacant lot adjacent.

This new appendage creates an additional 1,200 square-feet of commercial space for the building, floor area the Danziger Gallery can’t take advantage of. The Chelsea refugee recently vacated the ground level after a quick two-year jaunt.

This severely-altered townhouse at 95 Rivington dates back to the 1840s, and was formerly part of the Roumanian-American Jewish Congregation, which collapsed in January 2006. The annex functioned as a Talmud Torah (Hebrew school) as evidenced by the ghost lettering across the entrance.

Meanwhile, the 76-foot-wide lot itself, still owned by the phantom synagogue, has been on and off the market for well over a decade. Previous asking prices skyrocketed north of $20 million. Probably more by now.

Even though Rabbi Shmuel Spiegel promised to someday rebuild the house of worship at 89 Rivington, it seems less and less likely these days. We all know it’s gonna be the next huge Hell Square tower, though. Eventually. From an article in The Villager dated 2006:

[Rabbi Shmuel Spiegel] said the congregation definitely plans to rebuild a synagogue on the spot, which is located between Ludlow and Orchard Sts.

“Like I always say, there will be a synagogue there,” he said.

“It feels terrible,” he said of having to demolish the historic brick building. “I really can’t describe it in words. My father died doing a circumcision in the synagogue. He kept the synagogue alive. A lot of roots — they go deep, deep into the ground.”

Hopefully, the new building will be completed in one and a half to two years, he said. They’ll try to incorporate salvaged elements from the former synagogue, such as the old stained-glass windows and the ark, to the greatest extent possible. Asked what style the new building would be, the rabbi said, “I would like to really try to replica a little.”

As for where the money will come from for the new project, he said, the rebuilding fund they started after the collapse could be doing better.

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