The architecture of New York City changes and adapts to the ever-changing lifestyles of New Yorkers. Many buildings, whether they start out as mansions or firehouses, churches or libraries, serve multiple purposes throughout their life cycle. In this list, we explore ten the repurposed synagogues of New York City, the sacred spaces that now serve as everything from condos and nightclubs to community centers and artist studios!
On Untapped New York’s upcoming Secrets of the Lower East Side Tour and Tasting, you’ll stop by and learn more about some of the former synagogues on this list, plus many other historic and cultural sites in the neighborhood. Led by longtime Lower East Side resident Richard Soden, this tour will also include tastings of delicious food from the area, like Pickle Guys’ pickles!
Secrets of the LES: Tour + Tasting
1. The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation is a nonprofit organization that “promotes the legacies of the artists Milton Resnick (1917–2004) and Pat Passlof (1928–2011) and supports the work of other painters.” The foundation opened to the public in 2018 inside a repurposed Lower East Side synagogue at 87 Eldridge Street. The synagogue served as Resnick’s studio from the 1970s to the 1990s. Restoration of the building and its conversion into an art space was done by Ryall Sheridan Architects. While the interior looks much like any other art gallery with plane white walls hung with paintings, there are remnants of the building’s past that peek through.
From the outside, you can still see the name of the congregation inscribed in stone, B’nai Tifereth Yerushalayim, or Sons of the Glory of Jerusalem. And of course, it’s hard to miss those windows. In Resnick’s former studio space on the second floor, the rose windows stand 20 feet high, and the brick walls are exposed. The floor now serves as an exhibition gallery and programming space for the foundation. A smaller studio on the third floor, where Resnick worked in his later years, has been preserved just as he left it when he died in 2004. There are easels, paints, figurines, brushes, and posters that have remained untouched in the closet-sized room.