The Town and Village Synagogue Designated an Individual Landmark

Congregation Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue located at 334 East 14th Street in Manhattan. Image Credit: LPC.

Congregation Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue located at 334 East 14th Street in Manhattan. Image Credit: LPC.

Designation was modified to exclude rear portion of the lot, where 1889 annex stands, in what Chair called a “good compromise.” On October 28, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Congregation Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue, at 334 East 14th Street in Manhattan, an individual City landmark. The synagogue was originally built as the First German Baptist Church in 1869, serving the German immigrant community of the East Village and Lower East Side.

Designed by German-born architect Julius Boekell, the building typifies the German-Romanesque-Revival Rundbogenstil, with rough stone facing and large round-arched windows. As the area’s Kleindeutschland character was displaced by Slavic immigrants in the 1920s, the church became home to the Ukrainian Autocephalic Church of St. Volodymyr. In 1962 it was sold to Congregation Tifereth Israel and became the Town and Village Synagogue It remains substantially as it was originally constructed, with changes including the replacement of Christian-themed stained glass with Jewish iconography, and the replacement of a cross with onion domes by the Eastern Orthodox congregation.

At an April hearing, synagogue members and representatives spoke in opposition to designation, arguing that it would inhibit plans to build a preschool and community facility space, and place an economic burden on the congregation. Numerous community organizations and preservation groups spoke in favor of landmarking. Council Member Rosie Mendez and State Senator Brad Hoylman issued a joint statement supporting landmarking, but recommending the exclusion of a rear annex from the designation.

At the meeting on designation Landmarks Director of Research Mary Beth Betts stated that the research department staff recommended the partial designation of the lot, excluding from landmark status the three-story rear annex constructed after the main building in 1889. Betts said the annex was not visible from any public thoroughfares, and its design was “utilitarian.”

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan endorsed the modified designation, finding the building to represent an era of architecture as well as downtown Manhattan history. She called the partial designation of the lot “a good compromise,” that would allow the congregation to use the annex for their mission without restrictions. Commissioner Michael Devonshire cast the only dissenting vote, disagreeing with the partial designation, finding the rear annex an integral component of the entity and part of its social development.

LPC: Congregation Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue, 334 East 14th Street, Manhattan (LP-2475) (Oct. 28, 2014).

By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.