LESPI's Letter re landmarking Tifereth Israel synagogue building

October 25, 2013

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: Landmark Designation: Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue Building, Manhattan

Dear Chair Tierney:

I am writing to strongly support Individual Landmark designation for the Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue building at 334 East 14th Street in Manhattan.

The building has a striking and robust architectural design and a very strong presence on the street. Its history reflects the area’s cultural and demographic transitions over the last century and a half, and thereby serves as an important historical marker for the Lower East Side community.

The Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue building was originally built in 1866 as the German Baptist Church. Occupying the outskirts of the Lower East Side’s Kleindeutschland neighborhood, the structure would have visually dominated the surrounding streetscape from its first construction. That it continues to have such as strong presence today speaks forcefully to the building’s architectural character and to its continuing prominent role in the life of our community. The building’s transformation over time, from its original use as the German Baptist Church, to its conversion to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 1926, and finally to its present use as Tifereth Israel Town and Village synagogue, can be traced in the subtle changes in the building facades, most notably with the replacement of the steeples with onion domes in the early 20th century and the introduction of the Star of David motif in the windows during the later 20th century.

The building has historically played and continues to play an important role in the life of the Lower East Side, and we believe it is essential that the building survives for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Its importance was recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 when it calendared the property. We applaud the Commission’s recent scheduling of a public hearing for the building, and respectfully request that the Commission acts to designate the building an Individual Landmark at the earliest opportunity. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

 

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy