Little did the clients know that converting a synagogue into a secular home would prove as time-consuming as obtaining rabbinical ordination.
Living in a former synagogue is mainly a Lower East Side phenomenon. At the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries, Jewish immigrants made the neighborhood home. Consequently, many small synagogues for the various immigrant groups were erected. And because the Landmarks Preservation Commission marked a number of shuls as unalterable, the original facade had to stay. What else was there to do with tenement-style buildings that could not be demolished or have their exteriors changed? The logical alternative was to convert the insides into condos, especially in a city where real estate prices are always on the rise.
And, quite often, the deeds of these one-time shuls on the Lower East Side transferred into artists’ hands.
Check back soon for more about this special project. ❧
Photography by Sergio Ghetti.