3. Hale Gurland’s Artist Studio

A repurposed synagogue on the Lower East Side that is now an artist studio. The window looks like a camera aperture.

58-60 Rivington Street used to be the address of the First Warschauer Congregation, a Romanian synagogue. The congregation began in 1886 as Kehal Adath Yeshurin of Yassay at 131 Hester Street. By 1903, the congregation was looking to upgrade its place of worship. 

They turned to Emery Roth — a Hungarian immigrant and the architect behind dozens of New York buildings like The San RemoThe Beresford, and the Ritz Tower. The synagogue facade that Roth designed was in a Moorish Revival style. The interior was upgraded as well. In 1904, the congregation celebrated their new home with a four-hour parade march, carrying their sacred Torah scrolls to the new location.

Many famous New Yorkers worshipped here including George and Ira Gershwin (who both grew up on Eldridge Street), Republican New York Senator Jacob Javits, co-founder of MGM and film producer Samuel Goldwyn, and comedian George Burns. After some financial struggles, the building was left vacant in 1973.

By 1980 there was a new tenant, SoHo-based sculptor Hale Gurland. Gurland transformed the space into his own personal studios and living quarters. The Roth-designed facade still maintains most of its original features, but some additions have been made. You’ll notice if you look at the central round window, the grilles are arranged to make it look like a camera aperture.