|Location:||7-13 Willett St, Manhattan, New York City, New York|
|Architectural style:||Federal Style|
|Added to NRHP:||April 26, 1972|
|Designated NYCL:||April 19, 1966|
The Bialystoker Synagogue at 7-11 Willett Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City, New York State is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue. The physical building is registered as an historic landmark.
The Bialystoker Synagogue was first organized in 1865 on Manhattan's Lower East Side as the Chevra Anshei Chesed of Bialystok, founded by a group of Jews who came from town of Białystok in Poland. The congregation was begun in a building on Hester Street, then it later moved to Orchard Street, and ultimately to its present location 7-11 Bialystoker Place on the Lower East Side.
In order to accommodate the influx of new immigrants from that area of Poland, in 1905 the congregation merged with congregation Hadas Yeshuan, also from Bialystok, and formed the Bait Ha'Knesset Anshi Bialystok (The Bialystoker Synagogue). The newly formed congregation then purchased and moved into the Willett Street Methodist Episcopal Church at 7 Willet Street (now 7-11 Willet Street, later renamed Bialystoker Place). During the Great Depression a decision was made to beautify the main sanctuary, to provide a sense of hope and inspiration to the community.
The fieldstone Methodist Episcopal Church building was built in 1826 with a simple pedimented roof and round arched windows. Later, William H. Boole was the church's pastor. The building is made of Manhattan schist from a quarry on nearby Pitt Street. The exterior is marked by three windows over three doors framed with round arches, a low flight of brownstone steps, a low pitched pediment roof with a lunette window and a wooden cornice.
The synagogue was listed as a New York City Landmark on April 19, 1966. It is one of only four early-19th century fieldstone religious buildings surviving from the late Federal period in Lower Manhattan. Richard McBee and Dodi-Lee Hecht have both written in-depth articles about the building.
As the synagogue is home to an Orthodox Jewish congregation, a balcony section was constructed to accommodate female congregants. In the corner of the women’s gallery a small hidden door in the wall that leads to a ladder going up to an attic, lit by two windows was constructed. When it was first opened, the building was a rest stop for the Underground Railroad movement; runaway slaves found sanctuary in this attic.
When the air conditioning was updated in the 1990s, an issue arose in the construction of rooftop units because of the building's historical landmark status. Because of these concerns, the cooling units were installed on the side of the building.
In 1988, the congregation restored the interior to its original splendor, and the former Hebrew school building that is attached, but had become dilapidated, was renovated and reopened as The Daniel Potkorony Building. The magnificent stained glass windows were recently completely recreated and renewed.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "AIA Guide to New York City", 4th Edition, p. 93
- "William H. Boole". New York Times. February 25, 1896. Retrieved 2011-05-03. "William H. Boole. The Rev. William H. Boole, D.D., a prominent clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church and widely known as a temperance lecturer and evangelist, died at 1 o'clock yesterday morning at his Home, Prohibition Park, Staten Island. Dr. Boole, who was sixty-eight years old, had been slightly indisposed for a week, but was preparing to fill several engagements to lecture this week. ..."
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