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Gusterfell

IN PROGRESS: Touro Synagogue Visitors Center

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As you can see, there finally seems to be some movement on this project in recent weeks:

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The synagogue building itself is in the right background. The building at left is a historic house that will be reduced to its original two stories (the ground floor is later construction), restored, and moved to the left, where it will be connected to this building, to be built over the exposed basement on Spring Street:

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The park in front of the synagogue will be redesigned and extended to the intersection of Touro and Spring. If I'm picturing everything correctly, the above rendering is the view across the new open space from Touro St, with Spring at left. The porch at right will connect the two buildings of the visitors center, with the synagogue further to the right up the hill.

This project will be a dramatic change for this part of town, and will greatly benefit both the synagogue and its visitors. It's great to see it moving forward after all this time.

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^Well, since that post this project has moved about as quickly as Capitol Cove. Within the last few days, however, they have put up construction fencing around the entire site. It looks like things might pick up soon.

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Quick update on this. The foundation for the new building looks to be complete, with above-ground construction underway. There lookst to have been quite a bit of interior work on the existing house in preparation for its eventual move.

A view from the back of the Colony House, across Coffee's service station:

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From the NW corner of the site. Spring St. is in the foreground, the synagogue is at far left, and the building that will be moved is at right:

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There has been quite a bit of progress on this. The new building is taking shape, and the ground floor of the existing house on the corner has been demolished. The house is currently on jacks a dozen feet in the air, ready to be lowered.

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Yesterday morning:

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The house has been lowered by a couple feet a day for the past week or so, and when it reaches its final height a new foundation will be built underneath. I was under the impression that the house was going to be moved to another part of the lot, but it seems that either my source was mistaken or the plans have been modified. The house will stay where it is, and a new entrance to the Touro synagogue complex will be created between it and the new Visitors' Center.

As for the new building, you can get a sense of its overall form from the work that's been completed this far. The entrance to the building will not be from the street, but through the large arch facing the house. I'm intrigued by the way interior space is being divided. It seems that the upper floor will be a loft space, set back from the three arched windows fronting Spring Street. I haven't seen or heard anything about what sort of facade material is planned, beyond the vague rendering I posted above.

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Goodness, have I really not updated this since January?

The visitor center is finished, and opened to the public earlier this month. I haven't been inside yet, but I'm impressed with the way the exterior turned out. The facade appears to be either concrete or some sort of (high quality) synthetic material, and it is molded to look like stone, with an interesting variety of textures over different parts of the building. I love that the details pay homage to the historic synagogue building, while the overall building is unique enough in design to make a statement in its own right.

The restoration of the house on the corner has been put on hold, with the economy being what it is. With any luck it will happen in the near future.

Here are a few pictures I took shortly before the visitors center opened, intending to post them here before real life got in the way. I'll have to take some "finished product" shots now that the construction paraphernalia is gone, but you can get a sense of the building:

the front (Spring Street) facade:

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the rear facade, facing the synagogue:

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the transom over the entrance:

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