New York’s historic Adas Yisroel Anshe Mezritch Synagogue will reopen soon after a long renovation which began six months ago. Located on 415 E. 6th St. in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood its building dates back to 1910.
Founded by Ukranian Jewish immigrants to the U.S. from the town of Mezritch, Edath Lei’Isroel Ansche Meserit was founded in 1888. The 22 foot wide building has a neo-classical facade and is the last operating “tenement synagogue” in New York City’s East Village, so named because it filled the same narrow mid-block lots originally configured to hold small rowhouses as the tenements which were found throughout neighborhood.
It was a larger building redesigned by German architect and civil engineer Herman Horenburger who reduced it from 3 ½ to 2 ½ stories, and added the stone-and-brick neoclassical façade after the congregation took over the property.
Several years ago it was saved from demolition by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation which fought to get it landmark status. There were plans to replace it with a six story residential building. But this did not prevent the synagogue from making alterations to its interior.
The congregation received $1.2 million from East River Partners for a 99 year lease to rent out its upper level. Three luxury apartments, including one 11-foot penthouse addition, will be built upstairs.
Jody Kriss of East River Partners told the New York Daily News, “Back when we started the construction, people would curse me out. But when they found out that we were preserving the synagogue, and not demolishing it, they wanted to shake my hand, instead.”
The firm’s money will keep the three floor structure alive and repair its crumbling infrastructure. The 125 year old congregation will be able to go on.
“Some people are purists and they wanted to keep the building exactly as it was, ” said Robert Rand, president of the synagogue’s board. “But that would have been tantamount to benign neglect. This was the key to survival.”
East River Partners is also reportedly planning on paying an annual maintenance fee which will fund the congregation for another 200 years.