Restoration of the Historic Altar and Clerestory Windows

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ASTORIA CENTER OF ISRAEL

RESTORATION OF THE HISTORIC ALTAR AND CLERESTORY WINDOWS 2024 CAMPAIGN

CLERGY

Joshua Rabin

Rabbi

George Lindenblatt,

Cantor Emeritus

OFFICERS

Eric Black

Board Chair

Janet Abrams-Piechota

Mitch Blas

Treasurer

Irene Sprung

President Recording Secretary

BOARD OF

TRUSTEES AND GOVERNORS

Joshua Abrams

Elysa Blumenthal

Rafael Blumenthal

Elaine Brichta

Jonathan Darche

Samantha Darche

Ariel Eckstein

Areyeh Gershon

Steven Markowitz

Joanna Muenz

Andrea Pack

Litza Stark

Sue Ann Vajda

Cheryl Vawdrey

RESTORATION COMMITTEE

Mitch Blas

Bill Weber Co-Chairs

“How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” – PSALM 133:1 tinyurl.com/ACIwindows 27-35 Crescent Street,Astoria, NY 11102 astoriacenter.org ASTORIA CENTER OF ISRAEL OO

FROM THE RABBI

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T– he Astoria Center of Israel is a community of people filled with the love of Torah. The Center is also a family filled with love for the rabbis, cantors, teachers, and friends that have cared for us since the synagogue was built in 1925. Our sanctuary’s magnificent murals, ironwork, and stained glass windows reflect, illuminate – even deepen – the love we feel for this special place.

The windows are a record of our family history. The names inscribed –Cohen, Diner, Dreher, Horowitz, Nussenblatt, Rafael, Ratner, Siegel, Sklarofsky, Sohmer, and Steinberg, to name just a few –tell the story of the men and women who gave their

time, talents, and treasure to create this place of worship, learning, and love. Today, our family windows need our help.

THE NEED

Five windows in danger of collapse; a total of nine in need of restoration

While almost all of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary have been restored in recent decades, five were not: the Rabbi’s Window and the four Clerestory windows. In addition, two small windows in the doors of the Weisberg Chapel have cracked and/or missing glass, and the two other windows on the altar wall of the sanctuary (the Aron Kodesh and Cantor’s windows) do not have proper outside weatherproofing.

We must act now to properly restore, weather-

continued on page 6

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Eastern wall of
1 2 3 4 and Clerestory Windows
Detail from the Cantor’s Window Rabbi’s Window Aron Kodesh Window Cantor’s Window
Clerestory Windows
the Sanctuary

THE DAMAGE

Clockwise from top left:

1. Interior view of the sash (which holds the glass) of the Rabbi’s Window. The glass is separating from the sash and buckling. All five unrestored windows, due to age, gravity, and water damage, are in similar condition and in danger of collapse.

2. Glass pieces are missing from one Weisberg Chapel door panel. 3. Three panes of glass are cracked on the right-hand door.

4 and 5. Two exterior photos of Clerestory Window 1 show that the frame (which is the woodwork in the masonry opening), sash, and mouldings (which hold the sash in the frame) are disintegrating.

6. This interior picture of Clerestory Window 4 shows how the sash has separated from the rest of the window and collapsed.

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1 2
3 4 5 6

seal and protect all of these windows.

If we postpone this work, the damage to the Center building, and the price to restore it, will be incalculable.

THE DAMAGE

The photographs on page 5 show how gravity, the weather, and time have taken their toll on our windows.

The previous restoration of sanctuary and chapel windows came as a result of the 1981 fire that destroyed the Mishkin Israel synagogue that abutted our building to the north. The heat from their fire melted our windows. Insurance money paid for the replacements.

Today, we must pay for the repairs out of our own pockets.

THE CHALLENGE

Each of the five exterior windows must be removed from outside the building. Access to them will be complicated and expensive (see maps on pages 10-11). There are three exterior work areas that we must get to: the outside of the three altar windows, up to 35-feet in the air on the eastern wall of the synagogue, and the two HVAC Terraces on the North and South sides of the building that contain the Clerestory Windows.

The Altar Windows

yards of our neighbors on 27th Street. The altar windows are each located in a different backyard; all three backyards are fenced-in and do not have driveway or alley access.

In order to access the altar windows, we will need to build scaffolding in three different backyards. To do that, we will enter the three 27th Street backyards through the backyard of the office building adjacent to the Center (27-31 Crescent Street, the former location of Mishkin Israel), then cross into the backyards of 27-26, 27-28, and 27-30 27th Street. The office building backyard is accessible through the north alleyway which connects the Crescent Street sidewalk and the Center’s fire exit doors.

To erect scaffolding in the backyards, we must build the scaffolding above the existing fencing.

Another challenge is working around the TV and internet cables running along the back of our building. The lines cross the two side altar windows with just a few feet of clearance.

The Clerestory Windows

The building’s eastern wall borders four back-

The HVAC Terraces that the Clerestory Windows open upon are accessible via ladders from the two alleys. Until recently, the four windows were buried behind HVAC equipment on the two terraces (see Aerial View on page 10). We hired a contractor to remove the old equipment in May 2024. Once the equipment was removed, we were able to inspect these four windows, determine the extent of their decay, and include them in these plans.

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The Aron Kodesh Window was restored from the inside. This window needs exterior weathersealing.

THE PLAN

Once funding is secured, the Center will engage The Gil Studio, a well-regarded and fully-insured stained glass restoration studio with experience in historic buildings and projects of our size (see page 9). They will erect scaffolding behind the eastern wall of the building, remove the Rabbi’s Window and the four Clerestory Windows, then seal the openings with plywood and plastic sheeting.

The windows will then be securely packaged and moved to their facility in Jersey City, NJ. There, each window will be disassembled and each piece of glass cleaned. The windows will be reassembled with new leading and, if necessary, augmented with replacement glass. New wooden sashes, mouldings, and/or frames will be built for those windows that require it – we will not know which pieces are salvageable until they are removed.

For the Rabbi’s Window, the studio will install three new plaques, matching the coloration and design of the existing plaque with Rabbi Goldberg’s name on it (see box at right).

The two Weisberg chapel door windows – which have broken and cracked panels – will also be removed.

After a number of weeks, the windows will be returned to the Center and reinstalled. At that time, the outer frames, sashes, and mouldings of all seven exterior windows will be properly cleaned, recaulked, and repainted.

Also at that time, our neighbor’s backyards will be cleaned and restored to their previous condition.

Redesign of the Rabbi’s Window

Rabbi and Mrs. Goldberg’s plaque will be moved to the top position.

The second position will be for a plaque to be dedicated to Rabbi and Mrs. Kass and installed during restoration.

The bottom two positions will be left blank for future honorees. The window leading will be specially formed so that the plaques can be decorated without removing the entire window.

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Current layout Future layout New Kass Plaque

THE COST

The cost to remove, restore, and replace all nine windows comes to just under $80,000. The Gil Studio’s bid includes all work reasonably predicted to be necessary – millwork, scaffolding, etc. We may find, however, unexpected damage to the building or window housings once work has begun. It is important to work with professionals to do the work safely and properly to ensure the longest life for our windows and building.

RABBI’S WINDOW

Ÿ Removal

Ÿ 3 days of scaffolding/ladders

Ÿ Remove window, protect site with temporary covering, secure and transport window

Restoration

Ÿ Disassemble panels, redesign with new plaques and painted decorations, repair sash, clean and reassemble with new leading and/or glass

Reinstall

Ÿ 3 days of scaffolding/ladders

Ÿ Transport and reinstall window. Repair frames and weatherproof all three altar windows

Site work 15,400

Studio work 9,130

Materials 2,470

Total 27,000

FOUR CLERESTORY WINDOWS

Removal

Ÿ Scaffolding/ladders included in Rabbi’s Window price

Ÿ Remove windows, protect site with temporary coverings, secure and transport windows.

Restoration

Ÿ Disassemble panels, clean and reassemble with new leading and/or glass.

Ÿ New mahogany or equivalent sashes and mouldings

Reinstall

Ÿ Scaffolding/ladders included in Rabbi’s Window price.

Ÿ Transport and reinstall window. Prepare/repair window openings and weatherproof all four windows

Site work 20,350

Studio work 21, 142 Glass work materials 1,560

New sashes/mouldings materials and labor* 5,200

Total 48,252

CHAPEL DOOR WINDOWS

Removal

Ÿ Remove protect site with temporary covering, secure and transport window

Restoration

Ÿ Disassemble panels, repair sash, clean and reassemble with new leading and/or glass

Reinstall

Ÿ Transport and reinstall windows

Materials 110

* Millwork provided by an outside vendor, subcontracted by, and under the supervision of, Gil Studio.

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Studio
TOTAL PROJECT
Site work 360 Total 2,190
work 1,720
$ 77,442

The Gil Studio

After extensive interviews and site visits with four glass contractors, the stained glass committee has chosen The Gil Studio to restore our windows.

Artist/Principal Zachary Green and his staff of artisans are specialists in the design, fabrication and restoration of stained glass windows in a variety of settings. Their clients range from well-known religious, civic, art, and academic institutions to private residences. Working with major architects, artists, structural engineers, and contractors, the studio has contributed to some of the largest, most complex and historically significant stained glass projects.

Their staff is trained in both ancient and modern materials and methods; the conservation of priceless windows often requires a combination of lead came assembly, restorative kiln-fired painting, modern silicon lamination, and precision millwork.

Gil Studio’s past projects include the conservation of famous Tiffany and La Farge windows, new installations at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, and innovative public art works.

Founded in 1989, the New York City-based studio works on projects throughout the United States.

Watch a CUNY news profile about the studio’s work at tinyurl.com/GilStudio or visit their website at www.TheGilStudio.com.

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Recent projects. Clockwise from top left: The West Window of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, a studio artisan at work, the East Rose Window in the Eldridge Street Synagogue, Zach Green in the studio.

Aerial Views

South HVAC Terrace*

North HVAC Terrace*

TV/Internet Cables

* All HVAC equipment was removed in May 2024.

South HVAC Terrace

Photo taken from the roof

Clerestory windows

TV/Internet cables

Backyard fencing

Source: Google Maps

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Site Map

Aron Kodesh Window

Cantor’s Window

Clerestory Windows

Exterior stairways

Fencing

HVAC Terraces

Mixed-use buildings

Rabbi’s Window

Residential buildings

Scaffolding access route

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Crescent Street 27th Street South Alley on Basement Level North Alley on Street Level
TV/Internet cables 27-34 27-35 27-31 27-32 27-30 27-28 27-26 27-24 Down Down 2729 27-47 27-47 2722 Wrought-iron railing C C R R AK AK 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 South Terrace North Terrace 27-34

How to Contribute

Donor t in a bronze plaque that will be placed in the sanctuar

ABBI JOSHUA L. GOLDBERG your work not only breadth breath. Do not copy what you see outwardly give it spirit.”

Directionstotheartisans decoratingthesanctuaryin1925

When you support the restoration of the Center’s stained glass windows, you are joining with the generations of Jews who built this community with their time, talents, treasure, and hearts. Their names are on the windows; your contribution ensures that their stories will never be forgotten.

The names of major donors, engraved on a bronze plaque, will join these names in the sanctuary.

Contribute Funds Give Feedback Refer Others

Make checks payable to Astoria Center of Israel and write “Windows” on the memo line.

Mail to: Astoria Center of Israel 27-35 Crescent Street Astoria, NY 11102

If you’d like to speak to a member of the committee, please email the Center office at admin@astoriacenter.org or call 718-278-2680 and your call will be returned.

Want to refer others? Share the online link to this booklet tinyurl.com/ACIwindows through social media, or send an email to admin@astoriacenter.org and we will forward a printed copy of this booklet with a note that says you thought they would be interested.

Interested in helping in other ways? Please send your feedback, questions, or ideas to admin@astoriacenter.org.

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