Year-Long Rehab Of Corona Site
Corona’s Tifereth Israel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Queens, will be rededicated on Wednesday, Oct. 24 with the help of the The New York Landmarks Conservancy.
For the last decade, the conservancy has provided financial, technical and project management assistance to the congregation for the comprehensive $1.6 million restoration of the house of worship under the Conservancy’s Sacred Sites program, which provides assistance for the restoration of culturally significant religious properties.
The rededication ceremony will be highlighted by a ribbon cutting and remarks by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, as well as from Rabbi Amnon and Esther Khaimov of Congregation Tifereth Israel, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Robert Tierney, Landmarks Conservancy President Peg Breen, Merrill Hesch of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and Rimma Kharlamov of COJECO (Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations).
Constructed in 1911 and designated a city Landmark in 2008, the building is a rare surviving wooden synagogue and was designed in the Gothic and Moorish revival styles by local architect Crescent L. Varrone.
The synagogue housed a congregation of Jews that had relocated to Queens primarily from the tenements of the Lower East Side. The building is reminiscent of vernacular Lower East Side synagogues which were often similar in size, material and proportion to their neighboring tenements and commercial buildings.
The Tifereth Israel Synagogue building needed major exterior restoration work and its lack of heat conserving construction-insulation and energy efficient, operable windows- made it impossible to keep warm in the winter. A stucco coating installed in 1929 had accelerated rot of the wood windows and structural frame.
Over the past decade, the Conservancy worked with the synagogue to garner the funds and professional expertise needed to undertake a full exterior restoration of the building and helped obtain listing of the Synagogue in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as designation as a city landmark.
The restoration project began last summer. The scope of the work entailed the removal of the stucco coating, substantial structural repairs to the underlying wood frame, recladding of the building with wood siding, the restoration of its rotted windows and doors, the re-creation of missing decorative trim, and the repainting of the building in its historic cream-and-gray paint colors.
The restoration project has been supported with public and private funding including New York City capital funding allocated by Marshall and a grant from the state Environmental Protection Fund.
Additional support has been provided by several individuals, foundations, and nonprofit organizations including Arnold and Arlene Goldstein, The Lauder Foundation- Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund, Sam Domb, The New York Community Trust, the David Berg Foundation, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Pro bono legal services were provided by Barry C. Ross and David E. Firestone of Bryan Cave LLP.
The project architects were Roz Li and Harold Martinez of Li-Saltzman Architects P.C.
Since 1986, the Sacred Sites program has disbursed grants totaling more than $7.8 million to 700 congregations regardless of denomination. In turn, these grants have mobilized $543 million in renovation projects, generating crucial economic stimulus and local jobs.