Congregation Tifereth Israel Synagogue
Located in Corona, Queens, the synagogue building of the Congregation Tifereth Israel was built in 1911 by Ashkenazi Jews. It is a remarkably rare surviving example of Gothic-Moorish revival architecture and remains both the oldest purpose-built synagogue building and oldest synagogue in continuous use in Queens. The building was added to the list of New York City Designated Landmarks in Queens in February 2008.
Backstory and Context
The Congregation Tifereth Israel was incorporated in 1911 and purchased the plot of land at 54th Avenue in April of that same year. They commissioned Crescent L. Varrone to design the synagogue, and construction started in August 1911. The two-story building was made of a lumber frame covered in clapboard, which has been renovated and replaced with a layer of stucco plaster. It features a tripartite façade with a raised central entrance, accessed via a double staircase. A roundel with the Star of David is located above the entrance. The façade displays Gothic a Moorish elements, such as rounded- and pointed-arch windows, and a decorative gabled parapet. Towers topped with rounded, onion-shaped peaks were also built on each corner, in contrast to the relatively modest design of the interior. The flat roof is pierced with a skylight.
In addition to the synagogue, a mikveh (bathhouse) - which was once the residence of the rabbi - and a yeshiva (an institute for the study of the Torah and Talmud) were constructed, though the latter closed in the 1970s and was converted into accommodations for a music studio (once used by Madonna). A Jewish cemetery was also operated. Although the synagogue fell into a state of disrepair during the 1990s, the building continues to be used and cared for by the Ashkenazi Jewish congregation to this day and remains a vital part of their identity and heritage. Work began in 2014 to restore the building and modernize its electricity and heating systems, with plans to cover the exterior walls with wood in the future.
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"Congregation Tifereth Israel." NYC. Accessed Web, 6/17/17. http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/Tifereth_Israel.pdf.
"Congregation Tifereth Israel." The New York Landmark Conservation. Accessed Web, 6/17/17. http://www.nylandmarks.org/programs_services/grants/sacred_sites_program/projects/congregation_tifer....
Leduff, Charlie. "The Rabbi's Lost Tribe." The New York Times. 11/16/97. Accessed Web, 6/17/17. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/16/nyregion/the-rabbi-s-lost-tribe.html.