Sunday, January 3, 2010

Elevation Desecration

Green = Pipes
Blue = Banner / A.C. Units
Red = Electrical Wires
Grey shading = Tubze Stone

The elevations of 28 Rachel Imenu are generally well-kept. The building itself was originally two stories but a third story was added in 1947 with a different style of stone finish - Tubze instead of Taltish. In addition, along the back elevation there are some places where the 1st floor and even the ground floor stone has a Tubze finish.

Most of the original fenestration still exists. One window in the basement level has been sealed up, and two windows on the second floor (only one of which is obvious) has been sealed. Some of the balconies have been closed in, but this has mostly been done well. The exception is the large balcony in the rear of the second floor, which was closed with ugly, white plastic walls.

One storage space has been added to the rear, on the back porch. This is the only part of the building not clad in stone and it stands out like a sore thumb. It has a metal corrugated roof and is only one story high. Currently it is used as the kitchen.

However, due to the fact that extra showers and toilets were installed in the building, a large number of sewage and water pipes adorn the walls of the building. In addition, electrical wires have been draped along some walls, some for exterior lighting, and a few air conditioners have been installed externally. On the roof there are a number of solar hot water heaters, but these are largely unobtrusive. Wherever pipes and wires are strung there are holes punched in the stone to allow entry into the building.

Presumably the Polish Consulate installed a flagpole in the middle of the front elevation. For a number of years a sign identifying the current tenant has been placed front-and-center above the entrance. In the past it was a convention sign, but today it is a banner that takes up the full width of the front elevation and wraps around the side.

The building is surrounded by a low wall with a metal fence above. At some stage spikes were added to the top of the fence. Certain segments of the fence have been broken, but have all been repaired using similar parts. One section of the fence, towards the rear of the property on Rachel Imenu, is missing and was presumably taken to replace a more prominent part of the fence. There are three openings in the wall - one at the main entrance, one opposite the stair core on Bostanai, which allows access to the 1st and 2nd floors directly from the street, and a larger opening on Rachel Imenu, which at one point served as the driveway. This last opening is the only one that no longer has a gate attached to it, though evidence of the hinges in the wall are still present.


  1. A friend has drawn my attention to this site. In 1942 I lived, with my parents, at the Pension Leurer which I believe was at number 26 Rachel Imenu Street. Do you happen to know anything about this building ?


  2. Hi Sam,

    I was working on this building as a student in an architecture studio that was dealing with preservation in Katamon. I believe one of my classmates worked on 26 Rachel Imenu. I will check with her and see.