Century-old Central Synagogue Designated Historic Landmark

The century-old edifice of the Central Synagogue in New York has been designated an historic landmark of New York State in the National Register of Historic Places kept by the U.S. Department of Interior, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. The present building of the Reform congregation was begun in 1870 and completed two years later. The congregation itself, officially known as Congregation Ahawath Chesed-Shaar Hashomayim, was founded in 1846 and was housed in buildings on various sites. The congregation acquired the present site in 1864. According to Department of Interior records, the commission to design the synagogue was awarded to Henry Fernback, identified as the first Jew to practice architecture in the U.S. The records describe the building as “an outstanding example of its period.” Except for stained glass windows which replaced windows of painted glass, the building has not been altered since construction. It is the second oldest building of Jewish worship in continuous use in the United States. In 1966 it was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission. It has since been nominated for designation as a national landmark. Under the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, a building so designated cannot be demolished or altered. Funds necessary for its preservation are available from the Federal government under the Federal Historic Grants Act.

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