Centennial Celebration
Fire Damages New York's Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue

NY Times - May 16, 2017

by NIRAJ CHOKSHIMAY

A fire broke out Sunday at an abandoned Lower East Side synagogue that once housed the city’s oldest Jewish Orthodox congregation.

It took the Fire Department about two hours to bring the fire, which started around 7 p.m., under control, a spokesman said. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The fire occurred at 60 Norfolk Street, the spokesman said, which is the home of Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, a city landmark built in 1850.

Smoke from the fire appeared to blanket part of the sky over the Lower East Side in an aerial photograph shared online by Bill Ritter, a news anchor at WABC.

Photos shared online showed a bright-orange blaze that appeared to have done significant damage to the building.

The Gothic Revival-style building was originally built as a Baptist church and purchased in 1885 by the Orthodox congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagodol.

The building was saved by demolition in 1967, when Rabbi Ephraim Oshry secured a landmark designation. David W. Dunlap, a New York Times reporter, made reference to the story in his 2004 book “From Abyssinian to Zion.”

In 2001, another fire destroyed the building’s roof and ceiling.