Three Queens Synagogues Proclaimed ‘Historic’

By Helena Zhu
Helena Zhu
Helena Zhu
December 16, 2009 Updated: December 16, 2009

NEW YORK—At Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, Borough President Helen Marshall hosted a celebration of three Queens synagogues’ listing on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

The synagogues include Rego Park Jewish Center, Astoria Center of Israel, and the Free Synagogue of Flushing.

“These three synagogues embody decades of history, architectural character, and cultural heritage, and traditions,” said Marshall. “They are distinctive living memorials that now have a new chapter written into their history.”

The three synagogues are highly intact monuments that house a variety of community art and education programs.

The Free Synagogue of Flushing, a 1927 Neo-Classical Revival synagogue designed by architect Maurice Courland, established as part of the reform-minded “Free Synagogue” Movement. The architecture features a carved limestone temple front, copper pediment, and dome, as well as stained glass domed skylight and windows.

The Astoria Center of Israel, one of the few surviving synagogues in Queens from the early 20th century, was designed by Louis Allen Abramson, an important architect in the development of the Synagogue-Center Movement. At present, the synagogue sanctuary features unique Art Deco wall and ceiling murals painted by French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal.

A modernist synagogue, the Rego Park Jewish Center was designed by Frank Grad and Sons and built in 1948 to serve the fast-growing Jewish population of the area.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy worked to enlist the three synagogues as part of an ongoing historic synagogue survey of New York’s five boroughs. Through its ongoing synagogue survey of New York’s five boroughs, the Conservancy has identified dozens of “landmark-quality” synagogues and former synagogues in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, and is currently researching Staten Island.

“These National Register Nominations are the first step in what we hope will be a long relationship with the Conservancy, as we work with the congregations to maintain these beautiful structures,” said Peg Breen, president of the Conservancy.

Helena Zhu