Jewish Heritage Report
Vol. I, Nos. 3-4 / Winter 1997-98
Boston's Vilna Shul

Boston's Vilna Shul Receives New Preservation Challenge Grant

The Restoration of Boston's 1919 Vilna Shul (see JHR 1:1, Spring 1997) received a big boost with the award of a Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) Preservation Projects Fund challenge grant of $100,000. MHC had previously awarded the project a $50,000 grant in 1995. In order to receive the new funds, the Vilna Center for Jewish Heritage must submit $200,000 in paid construction bills. All tax-deductible contributions will be used to meet this challenge. The Vilna Center has no paid staff - all funds raised go to restoration and programming work.

Since work began, a new roof has been put on the building, the skylights have been repaired and the heating system replaced. In 1998, the Center will begin the Program Committee's regularly scheduled offerings.

Among the most interesting developments of the Vilna restoration was the recent study of the interior decoration carried out by architectural conservator Brian Powell for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and documented in a report entitled Vilna Shul: Painted Decoration - Report on the First Phase of Decorative Paint Research. The report details three decorative phases, including the first, c. 1920, which displayed a painted colonnade around the entire sanctuary, rising from a green marbleized base, with another colonnade in the women's section. The most recent decoration (under the modern white latex coat) featured salmon-colored upper walls, rag-glazed with red and white, above a red band and framing the sanctuary doors were unusual blue stylized leaves.

A symposium is being planned for the spring to discuss the discoveries and to addresses issues related to the conservation of the painting and the interior restoration.

For more information contact The Vilna Center for Jewish Heritage, Inc., One Financial Center, 40th fl., Boston, MA 02111.

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Updated: 23-July-98