The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

19th Century Church-Turned-Synagogue Gets Landmark Protection

By Lisha Arino | October 29, 2014 8:47am
 Town & Village Synagogue on E. 14th Street received landmark status on Oct. 28, 2014.
Town & Village Synagogue on E. 14th Street received landmark status on Oct. 28, 2014.
View Full Caption

CIVIC CENTER — The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to landmark the Town & Village Synagogue on Tuesday, decades after the first campaigns to protect the historic building.

Citing its architectural features as well as its reflection of the Lower East Side’s immigrant history, the commission voted to landmark most of the domed worship space, located on 14th Street between First and Second avenues.

“This building is not only an example of significant architecture, but also represents the waves of immigrants that contributed to the identity, dynamism and social and cultural history of the Lower East Side,” said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.

The building’s rear structure was excluded from the designation. Before the LPC voted on synagogue’s landmark status, the back structure was described as a “utilitarian” part of the worship space that was not visible from the street.

Town & Village had been considered for a landmark designation in 1966, but LPC never voted on it, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which led the latest charge to designate the site.

The worship space was built the German Rundbogenstil style in 1866, according to the commission. At the time, it was a German Baptist church located at the northern border of Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany, the city said in a press release.

The building then housed the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church of St. Volodymyr from 1926 until it sold the building to Congregation Tifereth Israel, which converted the church into a synagogue in 1962, according to the commission.

The commission did not immediately say why the vote in 1966 never took place.

Preservation advocates began a renewed campaign to landmark the building last year, after the synagogue hired a broker to either sell the building or find an investor that could develop and enlarge it.

However, some synagogue members opposed the designation in a March 2014 public hearing, fearing that it would raise costs for the congregation’s plans to modify the building for community programs and disabled access, according to reports.

Members also said the structure had already been altered since Town & Village purchased it.

Town & Village did not immediately return requests for comment about LPC’s recent decision.

Andrew Berman, GVSHP's executive director, called the decision "a great victory."

"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," he said.