Three Brooklyn Shuls Selected for State Register of Historic Places


shulThree Brooklyn shuls have been selected for listing on the State Register of Historic Places, according to Ann-Isabel Friedman, director of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program. “All three will now be forwarded to the National Park Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This usually takes a few months,” Friedman said.The three approved were:

• Ocean Parkway Jewish Center in Kensington, built in 1924-1926.

• Shaari Zedek Synagogue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, built in 1909-1910. Since 1944, it has been the home of St. Leonard’s Church.

• Kol Israel Synagogue in Crown Heights, built in 1928.

The three synagogues were nominated by the Conservancy, which acts as an advocate and resource for congregations of historic religious structures that are in danger of demolition or in need of grants to assist with building repairs and restoration.

Through its surveys, dozens of landmark-quality sites and former shuls were identified in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Staten Island is next,” said Friedman.

The agency was assisted by architectural historian Tony Robins, who completed 10 National Register nominations, building on the Conservancy’s survey research and outreach. Three of the 10 were in Queens and they were placed on the State Register in June.

The three additional sites – Jewish Center of Kings Highway, Young Israel of Flatbush and Kingsway Jewish Center – have been reviewed by SHPO staff, and will be presented at the December board meeting, according to Friedman. The seventh – Temple Beth El of Boro Park – is still being researched.

With nomination comes eligibility for the Conservancy’s Sacred Site grant and loan programs, as well as other potential sources of restoration funding.

In its 22 years, it has made more than 100 grants to 50 landmark-quality Brooklyn churches, synagogues and meeting houses, totaling over $800,000, according to Friedman. Additionally, its Historic Properties Fund has loaned hundreds of thousands of dollars, funding restoration projects. Funding for the listings on the state and national registers was provided by the Preserve New York grant program of the Preservation League of NYS and the NYS Council on the Arts.

The organization’s Brooklyn survey, conducted in 2007-09, identified 172 religious buildings that have functioned as synagogues. Of those, 113 current and 59 former synagogues were surveyed.

Aliza Ross of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, who worked on the survey, wrote in an email, “During the summer of 2007, myself and two colleagues working for the Conservancy spent three months looking for historic synagogues in Brooklyn. (Most are not listed in the white pages, and one must drive and/or walk around to find them.) We spent hours upon hours researching their history, documenting their condition, and discussing their eligibility with Kathy Howe of the SHPO. Without the work of the NY Landmarks Conservancy, these synagogues would still be unknown architectural gems.”

{Brooklyn Daily Eagle/Noam Newscenter}