Say “Shalom” to this former synagogue, now a four-bedroom home. Previously known as the Eighth Street Shul, the four-story building has been transformed into a townhome that’s being offered for rent at $30,000 a month.
“It is a unique thing,” says listing agent Jessica Swersey with Warburg Realty. “I don’t know too many synagogues that have undergone a conversion, especially like this.”
It was a first for us, too. Although we’ve covered many former churches that have been converted into residential real estate, we’ve never seen a transformation from synagogue to residence.
Now a temple to art and design, the multiyear renovation was carried out by the architect Tim Andreas, designer with the Ian Schrager Hotels group.
Not surprisingly, the structure has a storied history. Built in 1847, as a residence for an affluent Jewish family, the home eventually became a Lower East Side tenement, Swersey notes. Later, it became a shul, from the Yiddish for “synagogue,” where an Orthodox congregation worshiped until the 1960s.
With declining membership, the shul sat idle for years. An attempt to sell the building was resisted by preservationists.
After a fire in 1982, the building fell into disrepair and was inhabited by squatters. It was finally approved for sale as residential housing in 2000. In 2004, the former shul was sold for about $1.3 million.
The building also had a personal association for the current owner, Martin Davis.
“When I first saw the property, I was blown away by the soaring windows on the front of the shul,” he recalls.
“I told my family about it and later found out that when my grandfather emigrated to America in 1908, the first place he lived was in a tenement, literally directly behind my building. It turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come full circle back to where my family’s story began in the U.S.,” he says.
With the sale complete, the hard work began.
“The damage suffered from the fire was significant. It was a massive undertaking, in trying to restore it and trying to turn it into a single family home,” Swersey says.
In 2008, the newly redone building was finally ready for move-in. Davis has split his time between this amazing conversion and another residence he owns. It’s been up as a monthly rental before, and he’s now in search of a new tenant.
On the outside of the home, the building’s history is apparent, with an exact replica of the windows, inscribed with the Star of David, that were installed when it had been a synagogue.
Inside, an original, now restored, Star of David back-lit glass window graces the dining room. At the very least, it could be an amazing setting for your next Passover seder.
While the past is honored, the transformation brings the interiors into the modern era, with an open layout, 22-feet high ceilings, and interiors designed to showcase artwork. The sunny living space has floor-to-ceiling windows, a wall of exposed brick, and wood paneling.
The open kitchen includes custom cabinets, granite counters, and a massive, 20-foot island.
The floor plan also includes three outdoor terraces, a library with wet bar and fireplace, and a fourth-floor media room, office, or possible fourth bedroom that opens out to a terrace. The space includes 2.5 baths, artfully covered with mosaic tile.
The secluded master suite on the third floor has a custom fireplace, private terrace with hot tub, and opulent bathroom with a separate tub and a walk-in shower with waterfall.
If you are looking to rent a truly unique space and you like the look, you’re in luck. The home comes fully furnished, including artwork, with a nine-month maximum lease.
Warburg Realty agents Jessica Swersey and Jamie Fedorko hold the listing.