Central Synagogue |
Central Synagogue is Manhattan’s oldest continually used synagogue building. Originally completed in 1872 at a cost of $300,000, it is primarily decorated in Moorish Revival style with a Gothic basilica plan. The building was originally gas-lit and had many renovations before it was devastated by a fire in 1889 and again in August of 1998, culminating in the roof collapsing into the building. The building was immediately protected by a temporary scaffolding roof. The water used to put out the fire released 125-year-old fungus spores into the atmosphere that necessitated a 6-month toxic remediation. During the design phase, it was decided to re-build the synagogue as a contemporary celebration of the original with modern systems and conveniences. Little original material survived the fire; all that did was reused, including rare encaustic floor tiles. The original factory in England was still in operation and produced 20,000 new tiles. New wooden roof trusses were manufactured and hoisted into place through the main rose window. 5,000 hand-painted color stencils were employed to apply 69 colors to the interior surface – for a total of 2 million new images. The project received multiple preservation awards.