Open House New York 2014-Part 1

SAM_3167My husband and I love architecture. So the Open House NY weekend is one we anticipate every year. We can’t always participate because some years the weekend falls on yom tov.

This year coming as it did after three shul days in a row it was very, very welcome.  One of the sites this year was Central Synagogue. I was inside the magnificent building for this first time this spring to see the adult bar-mitzvah class that I had taught lead a service.

I knew my husband would love this jewel-box of a building.

The synagogue was built in the 1870’s. Several years ago the building was being renovated to it’s former glory. Just before renovation was completed a giant fire broke out. They began the renovation anew.
Every surface of the interior is covered with a pattern.
The floors, the columns, the walls, the woodwork are all patterned. SAM_3163
One might assume that so much pattern would seem busy.SAM_3164

Instead, all of the pattern is soothing. There is a whole lot going on here visually in this corner of the ark.

These skylights are above the ark.
The niches next to the ark were not neglected.

The ark is in the same shape and configuration as the façade of the building.
The vestibule was equally fabulous.

There are a couple of other sweet details. Most synagogues have hanging racks of tallitot available . Central Synagogue carefully rolls up their tallitot.

I loved the charity boxes at either side of the entrance.
I love the sanctuary doors.
Even the hinges are adorned.
We then got on the subway and proceeded to a church my husband and been dying to visit, the Church of the Transfiguration, also known as “the little church around the corner”.


  1. So much inspiration there! I guess you could go back to these photos again and again for ideas for the work you make.

  2. Absolutely! All of those patterns stacked one on top of the other is clearly something I relate to strongly. Clearly the stencil work was an inspiration to several other synagogues in Manhattan. In other cities, many of the urban synagogues of the 19th and early 20th centuries have been abandoned as people moved to the suburbs. In the late 19th century this synagogue had several other synagogue neighbors that have been since knocked down...the congregations re-built uptown.

    I also loved seeing similar materials and similar techniques used in both the Central synagogue and The Church of the Transfiguration


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