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.

Recent Stories

‘Good Luck’ Runs out for Orchard Street Massage Parlor, Busted for Prostitution

It appears the Good Luck Spa on Orchard Street ran afoul of the law. Shuttered by court order due to alleged prostitution. (And therefore perpetuating the stereotype of illicit Chinatown massage parlors.) The business, which relocated here from Grand Street four years ago, was ordered closed by court order last Thursday. Stickers on the drawn […]

Report: Notorious Landlord Michael Shah Arrested Twice for Allegedly Assaulting Girlfriend then Violating Protection Order

Notorious landlord and developer Michael Shah, whose properties and bars dot the Lower East Side, was twice arrested this fall regarding the alleged assault of his model girlfriend. The news comes to light in a New York Post article that focuses more on Shah’s recent filing of a complaint related to a summertime “attack” in […]

With Lease Renewed, B&H Dairy Undergoes Makeover

Currently celebrating eighty-one years on the Lower East Side, B&H Dairy has a new look. Last week, the restaurant took a three-day break in order to spruce things up a bit. Updated equipment, new floors, wainscoting, and a fresh coat of paint. Of greater importance, however, is the official update (via Facebook) that a lease […]

Guerrilla Plaques Document Offbeat LES Cultural Spaces of the ’90s and ‘00s

We’ve written a lot of articles in recent years about how one has to look a bit harder to find underground art, performance and just plain wonderful weirdness in the hyper-gentrified Lower East Side climate. Recently, anonymously made plaques appeared with the histories of some beloved performance and art spaces from the 1990s and early […]

Togo to go: Bronze Dog Statue in Seward Park is Relocated

The bronze dog sculpture near the East Broadway entrance to Seward Park is easy to miss. Before its relocation last week, he had been buried in the brush, guarding the small children’s playground (i.e. the tot lot). Now, as part of the ongoing $6.4 million “Parks Without Borders” renovations, he’s on the move. So this […]