Historic East Village synagogue granted landmark status

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Lucy Yates has details on the designation for the 150-year old synagogue in the East Village. (WABC)

A historic 150-year-old synagogue in the East Village, which was recently advertised for sale and which preservationists and local leaders had pushed to have landmarked for more than 40 years, was finally approved for such status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday.

The landmark designation takes effect immediately.

Workers were busy fixing the roof and facade of the Israel Town and Village Synagogue on East 14th Street, but from this time forward, they will not be able to change the look of this historic house of worship.

"We're thrilled it was designated," said Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Historic Society. "We want to make sure building stays are beautiful as it is for another century and a half for New Yorkers to be able to appreciate it."

The building was constructed in 1866 as a German Baptist Church. Then it became the Ukranian Church of St. Volodymyr. In 1962, it became a synagogue.

The structure is rich in architectural details, worship and the city's immigrant history. The Germans constructed it, the Ukranians added the onion domes, and the Menorahs and Star of David came after the Jewish conversion.

There was no comment from synagogue officials, who apparently do not support the new status and had listed the property for sale last year.

The landmark ruling will no doubt dim prospects for a future developer, but it will protect the building as it continues to reflect the glorious melting pot that is New York City.
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