Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hope for Bialystoker Home for the Aged and its residents

 Photo: Julia Manzerova

A new group has formed to save the Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which is slated for closing, eventual demolition, and the displacement of its aged residents, scattering them to distant and unfamiliar neighborhoods as a result of one of the shadiest deals in the LES. Hoping to save the building and prevent dispersal, Friends of Bialystoker Home has applied to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for designation. Landmark designation would end all plans to demolish and would obviate the Board's need to vacate the residents in the home.

The building itself is an art deco inspiration, integrating futuristic modernism with Jewish history. If you are at all susceptible to the romantic idealism of the art deco movement, its bold reinvention of all images and designs shedding classical traditions for the experimental, the medieval and the mythical, on the one hand, and on the other its aspirations for a utopian, amalgamated new-world-without-class, then you'll appreciate the Bialystoker.

The Friends are asking LESers to write to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, cc to Councilmember Chin (an opportunity for her to heal the wounds with the preservation community) urging the LPC chair to designate the structure as a city landmark.

Here's historian Joyce Mendelsohn, with details of where to send below:

Friends of the Bialystoker Home is a new group organizing a campaign for landmark designation of this important building constructed between 1929-31 to house the largest and most prominent of all the “landsmanschaftn” (mutual aid societies) on the Lower East Side.  The building survives as a major visual element on East Broadway symbolizing and recalling the Jewish history of the Lower East Side.  Designed in the Art Deco style with a golden brick façade, the ten-story structure features a unique arched entrance framed by twelve medallions representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  [The Bialystoker Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing (formerly the Bialystoker Home for the Aged) is located at 228 East Broadway at Clinton Street.]
We need your support in our drive for landmark designation of this irreplaceable structure.  Please contact the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to urge them to calendar the Bialystoker Center as a first step in the process of landmark designation.  Time is of the essence, since it has been reported that the building is currently up for sale and the Bialystoker Board intends to vacate the Center by the end of October.
Send your letter to:
Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair                                                                                                         
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission                              

One Centre Street, 9th floor north                                                                                                     
New York, N.Y. 10007 OR e-mail:                              

Please copy all written messages  and Council Member Margaret Chin:

Photo: LuciaM

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