Sacred Sites Program

Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens

Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
-Before Construction
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
-After Construction
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
-Trustee Steve Markowitz inspects cornice repairs
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
-Architect Illya Azaroff inspects flashing at lintels
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
Astoria Center of Israel, Astoria, Queens
-Art Deco Murals at Sanctuary Interior

The Conservancy has been acting as owner’s representative for a major parapet restoration project at the Astoria Center of Israel, a Classical Revival, 1925 Synagogue, designed by synagogue-center innovator architect Louis Allen Abramson. The project was completed this month, protecting second floor classrooms from further water damage. Minor interior repairs remain.

The Conservancy first visited the synagogue in 2003 to view its extraordinary decorative murals by Art Deco painter Louis Pierre Rigal. In 2009, the Conservancy was able to fund preparation of a National Register Nomination, making the synagogue eligible for Conservancy grant funding.

In 2010, a Conservancy grant funded a roof assessment by CTA Architects, which identified $300,000 in needed repair and reconstruction at the synagogue’s badly leaking front parapet. The Conservancy helped design and install temporary waterproofing at the parapet, and pledged a $30,000 Jewish Heritage Fund grant towards the parapet restoration. However, fundraising for the balance of the project was daunting for this small though growing congregation. In 2012, the David Berg Foundation allocated a special, one-time gift of $200,000, stipulating that the congregation contribute at least $50,000. With a generous bequest from the estate of late member Dorothy Horowitz, the congregation raised the matching funds in 2013 and engaged an architect, Plus Labs, in 2014. Construction took place this year, with the Conservancy assisting with contractor selection and monitoring construction progress at weekly construction meetings throughout the summer and fall.

Yates Restoration was selected as general contractor, and suggested that rather than replacing the deteriorated cast stone balustrade with a new, GFRC balustrade, which would push project costs beyond the available budget, that the existing balustrade components be salvaged and stored for future repair and re-installation. Restoration work included replacement of badly corroded steel lintels, installation of new matching soldier-course brickwork, removal of the deteriorated cast stone balustrade, repointing of the cast stone cornice, installation of new copper flashing at the cast stone cornice and parapet, installation of new flashing and metal cladding at the interior face of the parapet, associated asbestos abatement, chimney repointing, minor roof and scupper repairs.

The work also included structural repairs to steel framing and stabilization of the underside of the concrete roof slab at second floor classrooms. Interior ceiling repairs are currently underway, and should be complete by the end of the month.

With scaffolding removed, the restored and repointed Classical Revival cornice is once again visible, without the rubber tarp that wrapped the parapet for the last five years. And second floor classrooms are once again safe and dry.