Photo: unsourced from web
(ISJM) Last week city workmen torn down part of the facade and roof of the former Congregation Ohab Zedek at 18 West 116th Street in Harlem New York The structure has served a Baptist Temple Church for more than a half century. The New York City Department of Buildings took action because of structural damage to the church. There was a large crack running through the top part of the facade which the city feared would collapse. The cause of the crack is undetermined, but it may be in part the result of destabilization caused by the considerable construction work in the neighborhood in recent years, including the a large apartment building erected immediacy to the east of the 1906 brick sanctuary.
At the time of writing it is not clear what the future hold for the building. The only likelihood of rebuilding would be if the damage caused by the crack and subsequent demolition is covered by insurance. Even if that is the case, it is unlikely that insurance would cover any subsequent damage caused by the building's being opened to the elements. It is reported that the roof over the far end of the sanctuary remains intact.
You can see pictures of the demolition at two sites online:
Congregation Ohab Zedek was one of the many synagogue founded in Harlem at the beginning of the 20th century. 1906 was also the year the construction began on nearby Temple Israel, now Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.
For the Jewish history of the neighborhood the best source remains Jeffrey S. Gurock, An overview of the former synagogues in the area can found online in David Dunlap's 2002 New York Times article
For the Jewish history of the neighborhood the best source remains Jeffrey S. Gurock,
An overview of the former synagogues in the area can found online in David Dunlap's 2002 New York Times article"Vestiges of
Ohab Zedek was founded by Hungarian Jews who had moved north from the
Across the 116th Street, according to Dunlap, at "
This demolition calls to mind the collapse and consequent demolition of the First Roumanian Congregation on the Lower East Side, and points out how threatened many older religious buildings are. Even building that are in use and seem viable can be overwhelmed by catastrophe in an instant, and not survive the blow. To my knowledge Baptist Temple Church was never fully documented - all churches and synagogues should be both for history and for their own insurance purposes.