Thursday, June 2, 2011

Former East Village Burial Society Now a Hole in the Ground

I'm doing a little guestwriting over at Curbed today and tomorrow... I posted this earlier...

When we last checked in on 326 and 328 East Fourth Street in November, preservation groups were fighting a losing battle to landmark the former Uranian Phalanstery and First New York Gnostic Lyceum Temple, an artists’ collective and burial society.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission said the buildings didn’t merit landmarking status, giving developer Terrence Lowenberg and penthouse-making architect Ramy Issac the green light to add two stories to the top here between Avenue C and D.

The 170-year-old buildings have been undergoing a gut renovation in recent months. We caught a glimpse behind the plywood, and didn’t see much of the guts left.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Historic East Fourth Street artists' collective soon to be condos

Two side-by-side townhouses on East Fourth Street await your renovation

City doesn't give a shit about these historic East Village townhouses


Elissa said...

The buildings are a microcosm of the social, ethnic and religious history of this neighborhood. There is in some sense a contintuity as Uranian Phalanstery and First New York Gnostic Lyceum Temple, an artists’ collective and burial society with the building's past history. I did some research on them last year as part of the effort to document their 20th century history and found out that they represented the headquarters of a respected Hasidic dynasty.

For nearly fifty years, the largely extant Greek Revival townhouse at 328 East 4th Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, was home to Congregation Hesed LeAvraham, the first location in America for the Langer Brandwein family of the Strayner Dynasty of Hasidic Jews.

Like most who came to America during the height of Eastern European Jewish immigration, the earliest Hasidic leaders and their followers settled in New York’s Lower East Side, as did smaller numbers of Jews who continued to arrive up to and following World War II.

Today’s well known Hasidic communities in Brooklyn, upstate New York, Montreal, Toronto and elsewhere in North America are composed of post-war immigrants and their forbearers, often from once thriving Lower East Side Hasidic communities. The history of these communities is little known; few traces remain of their decades in our neighborhood. But these communities, and their synagogues, are a central aspect of New York’s Jewish and immigrant histories. These synagogue served as social safety networks and burial societies for their members, as an important part of the social and religious network for people who came from the same part of Eastern Europe .

From 1924-1970, Rabbi Uri (Ira) Langner (1896-1970) headed Congregation Hesed LeAvraham. Following his father, Rabbi Langner had been the rebbe, the Hasidic leader, of the small town of Knihynicze, in a part of Galitzia (formerly Poland and Austria-Hungary) now in the Ukraine. He was the grandson of the original Strettiner Rebbe, the founder of this respected Hasidic dynasty.

The open door of immigration to the United States was closed by the Immigration Act of 1924. Rabbi Uri (Ira) Langer was able to arrive just before the enactment of this law, with sufficient followers to open Congregation Hesed LeAvraham. He and his congregants suffered from anti-Semitism, the turmoil of World War I Europe and the Russian Revolution. As such, this synagogue and its renown rabbi represent the last of the major migration of approximately 2.2 million Eastern European Jews who immigrated to the United States beginning in 1880. Thereafter, many of those unable to immigrate due to the new immigration law—or their progeny—perished in the German Holocaust. In this way, too, the building at 328 East 4th Street stands as a central memorial to New York immigrant history.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bob Tierney.

glamma said...